A controversial call in the final minutes of Super Bowl 2023 wound up being crucial for the Kansas City Chiefs, who advanced down the field and eventually won the big game on Sunday.
The call, a holding penalty against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry on a third-and-8, occurred as Chiefs wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster made his way toward the end zone with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The call awarded Kansas City with a first-and-10 as both teams used up their timeouts prior to Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal.
Bradberry, in a post-game interview, told reporters that he believed it was a holding call.
“I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide,” he said of the referees.
Carl Cheffers, the Super Bowl’s head referee, said after the game that the grab of Smith-Schuster’s jersey merited the flag.
“It was a clear case of a jersey grab that caused restriction,” said Cheffers, who added that there was “no debate” among the crew following the penalty flag.
Before Bradberry acknowledged the move, several football analysts and sports figures criticized the call on Twitter.
Smith-Schuster later said he believed Bradberry held him during the play.
“100%,” he said in a post-game press conference.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni also weighed in on the penalty and told reporters that it wasn’t his job to make the call.
“Those guys have to do that in a split second,” Sirianni said regarding the referees.