Q&A with referee following key Super Bowl holding call

One of the key plays in the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII was a defensive holding call on the game-winning drive. On a third-and-8 from the 15-yard line, Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was flagged against Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a pass that fell incomplete. The penalty gave the Chiefs a first down with 1:48 remaining.

The Chiefs ran down the clock to 11 seconds before Harrison Butker kicked the game-winning field goal that broke the 35-35 tie. The Eagles’ final play Hail Mary fell incomplete.

The following is the post-game interview with referee Carl Cheffers, conducted by Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter Lindsay Jones, on the key call.

Q. Take me through that holding call on the final drive against the Eagles. What did you see there?

A. The receiver went to the inside and he was attempting to release to the outside. The defender grabbed the jersey with his right hand and restricted him from releasing to the outside. So, therefore, we called defensive holding.

Q. What specifically about that play was the part that merited the flag, just to be perfectly clear?

A. The grabbing of the jersey that restricted his free release to the outside.

Q. Was that a pretty clear case of it from your vantage point?

A. It was a clear case of a jersey grab that caused restriction.

Q. How much debate was there amongst the crew when that flag was thrown? Was there a discussion amongst the crew?

A. There was no debate. Just making sure what he had, and once he told us what he had, we went about our business.

Q. The restriction, did it happen at the top of the route or was it after the receiver had turned?

A. He went to the inside, he put a foot down to try and break to the outside. So, it was right at the break to the outside where the defender grabbed his jersey and prevented his free release to the outside.

Q. Was there anything about that play or that flag that you think would be helpful for people to know?

A. I don’t think so. That’s what we’re looking for, those kind of restrictions in those kind of routes that put the receiver at a disadvantage.