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It’s cliché, but a football game never really comes down to just one play. In every game there are millions of little moments that if changed just a little could turn the outcome of any game. But there are some plays that just feel more important.
With just under two-minutes left in the game, Super Bowl LVII was tied at 35. The Kansas City Chiefs had the ball at the Philadelphia Eagles 15-yard line and appeared on the verge of taking the lead. Barring something disastrous for Kansas City, the only question remaining was how much time would be left for the Eagles to respond.
On third-and-eight the Chiefs took what seemed to be the final shot at the end zone before bringing out the field goal unit. Patrick Mahomes pass sailed well beyond JuJu Smith-Schuster. It was a relatively innocuous play – until it wasn’t.
A flag was thrown, calling James Bradberry for a defensive hold against Smith-Schuster. The result was a first down for Kansas City, allowing them to run the clock down to just 11 seconds left before taking the go-ahead field goal. The Eagles had just one play – an incomplete pass – to respond.
On replay, the call was a Rorschach test for fans watching at home. Those cheering for the Chiefs saw Bradberry grab the red jersey. Eagles fans saw something that looked like almost any other pass play all game.
After the game Bradberry admitted to the hold. The question isn’t if the call was right by the letter of the law. Instead, it’s the spirit of the rule that is up for debate.
The common defense of calls like this is if something is a penalty in the first few minutes of a game, it’s a penalty in the final few minutes. But not all sports agree on that as a concept. Basketball, for instance, noticeably swallows the whistle for softer calls on last-second shots, not wanting a game to be decided at the free throw line unless the play is egregious.
In this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey, we want to know what you think about the call. Not if you think it was a hold or not, but how it looks big-picture. Did it change the way you feel about Super Bowl LVII as a whole? Do you believe NFL officials should have situational awareness around what a call like that would mean to a game?
Cast your vote now and be on the lookout for results later in the week.