The Super Bowl: A Perfect Game – Except for One Moment


Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Peter Vahsen, Editor-in-Chief

The Super Bowl, the annual finale to each NFL season, was a spectacular game- save for one part.

Super Bowl LVII, hosted at the Arizona Cardinal’s State Farm Stadium outside of Phoenix, always promised to be a close game. The Kansas City Chiefs entered as the top team in the American Football Conference, off a 14-3 regular season. With stars like Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes, they boasted one of the most fearsome attacks in the league.

Similarly, the Philadelphia Eagles also entered best of their conference, and also holding a 14-3 record. An attack led by Jalen Hurts was boosted by players like Lane Johnson, A.J. Brown, and Jason Kelce. They came into the Super Bowl as slight favorites, but this game felt as though it would be much closer than the past several Super Bowls.

Throughout the game, the atmosphere felt electric. Eagles fans, definitely in the majority, made their presence felt even before kickoff, first loudly booing Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott when he received a humanitarian award, and then the referees. 

The fans certainly spurred their team, and the Eagles got off to a dominant start. They seemed to find success on every drive, with the Chiefs’ defense largely unable to stop them. The Eagles seemed fearless, going for most fourth downs, and almost always making it. Their quarterback sneak was especially impressive. The Chiefs’ defense knew it was coming, set up for it, and still couldn’t stop it. By halftime, the Eagles had a 10 point lead, and looked good to win the game.

But the Chiefs roared back in the second half. Mahomes, who had limped off at halftime with an injured ankle, made a series of unreal throws to get his team back into the game. Aided by a bad Hurts fumble that was returned for a touchdown, by the middle of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs found themselves up by eight points. But an Eagles touchdown and dramatic two-point conversion would tie the score at 35 each. 

The Chiefs got the ball back with five minutes left in the game. They would quickly get within field goal range, putting them in prime position to take the lead. From there, they tried to use up as much time as possible, so as to give the Eagles little chance of having the opportunity to score back. But with nearly two minutes left on the clock, it was third-and-eight. Mahomes’ pass, intended for Juju Smith-Schuster, sailed too far. It seemed the Chiefs would be forced to kick the field goal, giving the Eagles plenty of time to mount a scoring drive the other way.

But in this moment, a flag was thrown by the referees. Holding, called on the Eagles’ James Bradberry, gave the Chiefs a crucial new set of downs. They’d run the clock out to 11 seconds left, before kicking what would be the game-winning field goal.

The holding came for what was, at most, an extremely light tug at Smith-Schuster’s jersey. It didn’t have much of an effect on his run, and certainly didn’t keep him from catching the pass, which was well off target. Essentially, an inconsequential brush of players sealed the win for the Chiefs.

By the book, the call might have indeed been correct, albeit extremely harsh. But the referees hadn’t called most borderline penalties, like that one, the entire game. As is common in the postseason, the officiating was a bit more lax. But on the most important call of the season, the referees instead opted to enforce a highly questionable penalty. 

Most other fans seemed equally disappointed by the decision. Even the commentators voiced their dissatisfaction during the game. Regardless of who you were rooting for, the call left a sour taste to a game that was, up until then, amazing.

Ultimately, the Super Bowl had a great mixture of competition, action, and heroics. But one needless interference from the referees ended up ruining the ending to an otherwise perfect game.