Strictly speaking, James Bradberry’s defensive holding penalty in the final minutes of Super Bowl LVII was the correct call.
Bradberry himself admitted he grabbed Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and was hoping the officials would ignore it. They didn’t, of course, and the resulting flag allowed Kansas City to drain nearly all of the remaining time before Harrison Butker booted a game-winning chip-shot field goal.
But just because the call was correct didn’t mean it was right. That’s the argument Julian Edelman made on the post-Super Bowl episode of “Inside the NFL.”
“You can’t call it,” the former New England Patriots wide receiver said after watching the Chiefs’ 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, “because earlier in the game, Bradberry got away with a tug. Usually, the refs call it consistent throughout the game. If they’re gonna let you play, you do business as business is being done.
“Is it a hold? Yes. But in that moment, you can’t call it.”
For most of Super Bowl LVII, Carl Cheffers’ all-star officiating crew was letting the Eagles and Chiefs play.
Before the Bradberry penalty, they hadn’t thrown a single flag for defensive pass interference or defensive holding on either team. Of the 10 penalties called in the game, six were for false starts or defensive offsides, and another was for a delay of game.
In fact, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe noted that before the whistle on Bradberry, which wiped out a third-down stop by the Eagles, crews helmed by Cheffers hadn’t called a defensive holding penalty in 576 defensive snaps.
Despite commissioner Roger Goodell’s claim last week that NFL officiating has never been better, complaints about blown calls and controversial rulings were prevalent this season. This one robbed fans of what would have been a thrilling conclusion to an otherwise fantastic Super Bowl.