The NFL and the officials union negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement earlier in the day, but in enough time to get the "real" referees back onto the field in time for the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Cleveland Browns game last night. Veteran referee Gene Steratore led his team onto the field to a rousing ovation from the fans at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium just before the coin flip.
The game, however, was far from penalty-free, as the two teams combined for 18 yellow flags thrown, including 11 for 100 yards by the Ravens. The game included one final penalty on Ravens OLB Paul Kruger, whose personal foul penalty gave the Browns a second shot at tyng it up with two seconds left. Imagine what would have happened if the replacement officials had made that call?
One final word on the scab refs. Don't blame them for the incompetence we saw in the first three weeks of the season. These guys accepted positions with the NFL, to earn a living, put food on the table for their families and to live a dream that only a few officials ever realize. They have wives and kids and will forever be ridiculed in this fiasco, but they never should have been put into the line of fire.