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James Bradberry of the Philadelphia Eagles was called for holding Kansas City's JuJu Smith-Schuster late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl.
CNN  — 

With Super Bowl LVII tied 35-35 with just 1:54 remaining, the Kansas City Chiefs faced a critical third down in Philadelphia Eagles territory to keep their drive continuing and run out some clock before attempting a game-winning field goal.

Chiefs quarterback – and newly anointed NFL MVP – Patrick Mahomes waited and threw a pass towards the endzone in the direction of JuJu Smith-Schuster, only for it to fall to the Arizona turf.

Just when it looked like the drive was ending and Kansas City would have to kick a field goal which would allow the Eagles the opportunity to have one final drive with about 90 seconds left – plenty of time for Jalen Hurts and Co. – a yellow flag fluttered onto the field from an official signaling a penalty.

The officials adjudged that Eagles cornerback James Bradberry had held Smith-Schuster, giving the Chiefs an automatic first down and allowing them to run the clock down to 11 seconds before kicking the go-ahead field goal – essentially wrapping up the victory.

In the immediate aftermath, the penalty call was questioned by the TV announcers.

“On this stage, I think you let them play, finish this thing out,” Fox broadcaster Greg Olsen, a former star tight end, said. “I don’t love that call.”

And on social media, it was queried by many, as people maligned it as effectively deciding the outcome of the NFL’s biggest game.

“Sorry but I don’t like that call! Not for the Super Bowl man!” NBA legend LeBron James said on Twitter.

In a separate tweet, James said: “His hand on his back had no effect on his route! This game was too damn good for that call to dictate the outcome at the end. Damn! By the way I have no horse in the race. Just my professional opinion.”

ESPN analyst Mina Kimes said it was “such a crappy way to decide a Super Bowl.”

Former Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant said that “that wasn’t a holding call.. under 5yds as well… that call for sure dictate the outcome of the game…”

NFL commentator Kirk Herbstreit said he hated the call at that stage of the game.

“Usually don’t get involved in ripping referees but HATE that defensive holding call on Bradberry. 35-35 late on a 3rd down incompletion on what was a marginal foul???” he wrote on Twitter.

“Let em play man!! Bad call-hate that is what many will take away from this game.”

But from the players involved in the play and Sunday’s officials, they were unequivocal afterwards that there was holding on the play.

“It was a holding,” Bradberry told reporters after the Eagles’ 38-35 loss. “I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, February 12. The Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35.
Matt Slocum/AP
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is dunked with Gatorade after the win.
Ross D. Franklin/AP
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts reacts after the game.
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Confetti falls after the final whistle.
Brian Snyder/Reuters
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce embraces his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce, during the postgame celebrations. This was the first Super Bowl in history where two brothers played on opposite teams.
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Mahomes celebrates at the end of the game.
Patrick Breen/The Republic/USA Today/Reuters
Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicks what proved to be the game-winning field goal.
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A pass soars over the head of Kansas City wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster late in the fourth quarter. Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was called for holding on the play, setting up the Chiefs' game-winning field goal.
Abbie Parr/AP
Hurts scores a two-point conversion to tie the game at 35-35 in the fourth quarter. Hurts finished the game with three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.
Brian Snyder/Reuters
Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore runs in for a touchdown that gave Kansas City a 34-27 lead in the fourth quarter.
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The Chiefs' Kadarius Toney returned a punt for a Super Bowl-record 65 yards during the fourth quarter. Moore caught his touchdown soon after.
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Mahomes celebrates with Toney after they connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. After the extra point, the Chiefs had their first lead of the game, 28-27.
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Toney eases into the end zone on his touchdown.
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An Eagles fan watches the game in the second half.
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Hurts hands off to running back Kenneth Gainwell in the second half.
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Mahomes is hit by Jordan Davis on a pass play in the third quarter.
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Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni gestures during the second half.
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Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco runs for a 1-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
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Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert pulls in a pass late in the first half. Philadelphia led 24-14 at halftime.
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Mahomes reacts on the bench after he appeared to aggravate an ankle injury near the end of the first half. He came back, however, for the start of the second half.
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Mahomes was in pain after this tackle by T.J. Edwards.
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Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith tries to bring in a pass late in the first half. The officials reviewed the play and ruled that it was not a catch.
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Hurts runs for a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was Hurts' second rushing touchdown of the first half, and the Eagles led 21-14 after the extra point.
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Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton (No. 32) chases down a Hurts fumble, which he ran back for a 36-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
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Hurts throws a pass in the second quarter.
Brian Snyder/Reuters
Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown catches a 45-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter.
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Butker missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in the first half. It bounced off the left upright.
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Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is seen in the second quarter.
Abbie Parr/AP
Travis Kelce catches an 18-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. After the extra point, the game was tied 7-7.
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Kelce celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster after the touchdown.
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Fans watch the action during the first quarter.
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Mahomes rolls out of the pocket on his team's opening drive.
Ross D. Franklin/AP
Hurts scores on a quarterback sneak to give the Eagles an early lead.
Ashley Landis/AP
US Navy jets fly over State Farm Stadium before the start of the game. For the first time ever, the ceremonial act was performed by an all-women crew.
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Donna Kelce, the mother of Travis and Jason Kelce, wears a jacket showing support for both of her sons' teams.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Chiefs take the field before the game.
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Mahomes gets fired up before the game.
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Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin walks on the sidelines before kickoff. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during a game against Cincinnati on January 2.
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The Eagles take the field.
Matt Slocum/AP
An Eagles fan with a cheesesteak hat gestures at the camera during pregame warmups.
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Sheryl Lee Ralph performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" before the game.
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Fans watch teams warm up for the game.
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Hurts runs onto the field for warmups.
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Chiefs fans in Kansas City gather before a Super Bowl watch party in the Power and Light entertainment district.

Smith-Schuster – who finished with seven catches and 53 receiving yards at the Super Bowl – said there was “100%” holding on the play.

“My route’s to strike in, strike back out. I mean Bradberry’s a good player, but you know I feel like, at some day, the call’s gonna be called,” he told reporters.

Referee Carl Cheffers told pool reporter Lindsay Jones afterwards that there was “no debate” whether or not there was a penalty.

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

Whatever the merits of the call itself, for Eagles center Jason Kelce, it was clear that it wasn’t the sole thing to blame for Philadelphia’s loss.

“They called it, and that’s the way this goes. I’ve said this before, I’m never going to be somebody who puts blame or anything on officials. That’s a hard job. They make a call. It is what it is,” he told reporters after the game.

“There were multiple other moments in that game to take care of business and I think that, you know, we were close. We could have won that game without the officials making… without that call being the determining factor.”

Still, despite the clarity from the people involved in the play, chatter on social media and beyond will debate whether or not the Super Bowl was decided on one call.