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The refs decided Super Bowl 57 on a weak defensive holding call

While it might have technically been the correct call, it certainly wasn’t a spot where it gets called often.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry reacts in the first half against the New York Giants during an NFC divisional round game at Lincoln Financial Field. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The stakes could not have been higher: 3rd down and 8 with 1:54 remaining in Super Bowl 57 tied at 35-35, and the ball in the red zone. Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster releases inside, but then heads to the corner of the end zone, but Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry wraps his arm around his man’s waist.

And he gets flagged for pass interference on this throw.

It was a call that decided the Super Bowl, as if the flag isn’t dropped, the Birds get the ball back with plenty of time to tie or even win the game. But because of the penalty and the Eagles having only one timeout remaining, they were forced to watch the Chiefs run the clock down to just 10 seconds before making the go-ahead field goal.

The adage “you can call holding on every play” certainly applies here. One of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history was Eli Manning’s throw to David Tyree for the “Helmet Catch” that decided Super Bowl 42 in the same stadium.

Watch the offensive line on this play. It’s not that they hold, it’s that they practically tackle the Patriots pass rush.

But that call didn’t get made, and the Giants went on to win the game. And that was 1000 times more egregious than anything Bradberry did. So argue the merits of what should and shouldn’t be called, but either way, don’t say the refs don’t decide who wins the Super Bowl. Because in at least one of the cases above, they most certainly did.

To give full credit to Bradberry, he blamed himself.

But if there’s ever a spot where you could let that slide, it’s this one. It’s certainly not an egregious hold, and worse ones happen on plenty of plays in the NFL. Considering the time left and what was in the balance, letting the players on the field decide the game is always preferable.

Fans of the NFL just want consistency. Either make every call in these spots, or don’t. But if were having any kind of discretion to let players decide games, than Bradberry’s “hold” is exactly what should be let go.

So in what was a very close game with razor-thin margins between both teams, it was the officials that decided won Super Bowl 57. Or Super Bowl 42. Or plenty of other Super Bowls as well.

It would be nice if they decided them consistently.