GLENDALE, Ariz. — Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry took responsibility for a questionable holding call late in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday that helped swing the game in the Kansas City Chiefs‘ favor.
“I was hoping he would let it go, but of course he’s a ref, it was a big game,” Bradberry said after the Eagles’ 38-35 loss. “It was a hold, so they called it.”
The Chiefs were facing a third-and-8 from Philadelphia’s 15-yard line with just under two minutes to play and the game tied 35-35. Bradberry appeared to put his hand on receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at the top of his route and was whistled for defensive holding.
“The receiver went to the inside and he was attempting to release to the outside,” referee Carl Cheffers told a pool reporter. “The defender grabbed the jersey with his right hand and restricted him from releasing to the outside. So, therefore, we called defensive holding.”
Cheffers called it “a clear case of a jersey grab that caused restriction” and said “there was no debate” among the officiating crew about the call.
The pass to Smith-Schuster was incomplete, but with a fresh set of downs thanks to the penalty, Kansas City was able to wind the clock down before kicking the go-ahead field goal with eight seconds remaining.
“Oh yes, 100 percent,” Smith-Schuster said when asked whether he felt like he was held. “My route was strike in, strike back out. I mean, Bradberry’s a good player, but I feel like, someday, a call is going to be called.”
Jalen Hurts‘ Hail Mary with time expiring fell incomplete, ending a thriller of a game that left Eagles players heartsick. Bradberry stood at his locker afterward for about 20 minutes, answering every question about one of the most consequential plays of the game.
“He’s an awesome teammate, he’s a great player, and I think that’s how you want your teammates and your guys to react,” center Jason Kelce said. “We all had our mistakes today. I had mine. It was just unfortunately a few too many.”
ESPN’s Adam Teicher contributed to this report.