It is all anyone wants to talk about on this fine Monday. With under two minutes to go in Super Bowl 57 Eagles' corner James Bradberry was flagged for a hold on Chiefs' receiver JuJu Smith Schuster . The call effectively ended the game, as it allowed the Chiefs to run the clock down to 11 seconds prior to kicking the game winning field goal. Eagles fans everywhere including Cooler Talk Sports' own Dom Defonso have been blaming this play for the loss. I am here to tell you that this is a misguided opinion, and (pardon my french) complete bullshit.
First things first, Bradberry, the perpetrator in this infraction, admitted to holding Smith Schuster. That should be the end of the argument right there. The guy who broke the rules admitted to breaking the rules, and hoped he would get away with it. I do not want to hear the horse shit "let the boys play" takes. It is the Super Bowl. It is third down. There is roughly two minutes left. As the defense you know you have to get a stop to give your team a chance. If you are a corner and you get beat and thus need to hold then you did not do your job. If you are a referee and you see a player has been beat try and get away with a hold you must call it or you are not doing your job.
As a huge fan of analogies, I would like to paint you a picture, Your a Senior in high school, you just accepted a scholarship to college and the last thing you need to do is take the SAT and receive a decent score. You get through the first few sections of the test and your feeling good until all of a sudden you get to the last section and, because you're afraid your score might not be enough you pull out your phone and cheat. Next thing you know you get caught. Your test gets voided and you lose the scholarship. You plead your case that you only cheated for precautionary reasons and even if you just take away that piece of the exam you still would have gotten the score necessary for the scholarship. Guess what? You still cheated. You knew what you were doing, and if you were so confident you did not need to do this then you would not have done it in the first place. It is the same story with the hold. Watch the replay, Bradberry gets caught with his hand in the proverbially cookie jar looking in the backfield, and in order to ensure he does not blow the coverage he holds JuJu. I am aware the pass was conceivably uncatchable. That does not matter the call was not pass interference, it was holding. If Bradberry just let JuJu go instead of grabbing on his jersey who is to say that he does not peel open and allow for Patrick Mahomes to hit him in stride for yet another touch down pass.
It was the correct call, and although if I was an Eagles fan it would crush me to no end, it is not the reason the Eagles lost the game. The Eagles lost the game for two reasons. Turnover battle: Chiefs 0 Eagles 1. Second Half Punts: Chiefs 0 Eagles 1. There is your ball game. Now you could look a little deeper and say how the Chiefs O line put on a dominant performance giving their hobbled QB ample time in the pocket despite facing what was statically one of the greatest D lines of all time. You could also point to KC winning the special teams and coaching battles particularly in the second half and riding that to victory. Whatever you choose as your biggest reason that the Chiefs were able to storm back from a 10 point halftime deficit do not let it be a penalty that a player admitted to committing.
If you are an Eagles fan, or an Eagles bettor, or just someone who loves blaming the zebras in big games, I would direct you instead to the fact that we still have no fucking clue what a catch is and how that had 3 opportunities to completely change the course of this game. The first play occurred when Devonta Smith (a frequent member of the is that a catch club) grasped a ball near the sideline before bobbling and trapping to his helmet then ultimately losing it once he came in contact with the ground. Upon further review the refs ruled no catch, the Eagles end up with a field goal to end the half instead of what could have been 6 points. If you ask me this was not a catch. If Devonta took a step out of bounds never touched the ground and left it on his helmet, sure that would be a catch but he hit the ground the ball popped out of his control and then he had to regain control once he was already out of the field of play. Eagles still got points on the drive, alls well that ends well.
The next catch was far more impactful. Miles sanders received a ball from Jalen Hurts, tucked it high and tight like any good youth coach would teach you, and made a move up field when he was immediately met by a Chiefs line backer who jarred the ball loose. By the letter of the law is that a catch? I'll be honest I am not sure what a football move is but it sure looked like to me that the ball coming loose was a direct result of the hit and it was very secure prior to that. However, in a tick for tack world where no one truly knows what a catch is I can sleep at night with the decision to overturn. The final catch vs no catch call with Dallas Goedert juggling a 3rd and long pass on the sideline prior to gaining control and getting only one foot down was the most puzzling to me. Was this a catch, once again I am not sure because I do not know what a catch is anymore. He for sure caught the ball but if you look at the rules and the precedent set earlier in the contest that is not a catch in my opinion.
I think the bottom line here is not that the Eagles got the favorable whistle in these scenarios (although they did come out 2-1 and 14-4 on the scoreboard on their direct impacts) but rather that their are so many arbitrary calls made throughout an entire game with rules that are quite vague in nature. With that being known you should never attempt to get away with a penalty and leave the game in the refs hands, especially not the Super Bowl. So instead of focussing on a singular (correct) call from last nights game, instead focus on the masterful performance by Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the entire Chiefs team, and if you want to get mad and yell about the refs please do so in the manner of what the fuck is a catch rather than that (once again correct) holding call.