NEW YORK — New England coach Bill Belichick was confused about a decisive field goal he thought was off-target. Detroit's Jim Schwartz couldn't understand a 27-yard penalty walk-off for unnecessary roughness. Philadelphia's Andy Reid felt ignored while trying to decline a penalty.
The furor over the work of replacement officials reached something of a fevered pitch during Week 3 in the NFL, when even deciphering downs and distance became a challenge.
In Sunday night's Ravens-Patriots game, shoving matches followed even insignificant plays. One TV analyst called it the substitute-teacher syndrome: See how much you can get away with before the real thing returns.
"Nature says for us that we're going to go out there and push the limit regardless," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said. "If they're calling a game tight, if they're calling a game loose, it's going to be pushed to the limit. You are pushing it to the brink. If things are going to be called easier, and in some situations I feel like they've been less lenient, too, you've just got to play and see how (it's being called)."
If you can figure it out.
Broncos coach John Fox was fined $30,000 Monday and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 for verbal abuse of the officials during a Monday night game against Atlanta on Sept. 17.
More fines are likely for Belichick and Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and perhaps for others.
Fox and Del Rio were hit for their sideline histrionics, particularly when Fox was told he couldn't challenge a call of 12 men on the field — he was correct that he could challenge, although replays showed the Broncos were guilty.
Before grabbing the arm of an official, Belichick wanted to know why Justin Tucker's field goal was called good in Baltimore's 31-30 victory Sunday night. He couldn't tell from his angle on the sideline, he said.
"So when the game was over, I went out and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether the play was under review," he said, "and I did try to get the official's attention as he was coming off the field to ask that, but I really wasn't able to do that."
Most confusing was the mark-off for a Lions penalty in overtime at Tennessee. Officials wound up penalizing Detroit from its 44-yard line rather than from the original line of scrimmage, the Titans 44.
Soon after, Rob Bironas kicked a go-ahead field goal.
Schwartz noted that the alternate official who helps the replacements with administrating penalties was on the Detroit sideline.
"We said, 'You're enforcing it from the wrong spot.' He was adamant that they weren't doing so," Schwartz said. "At that point, we just needed to play."
They didn't play well enough to avoid losing 44-41, and Titans coach Mike Munchak wasn't apologizing for how his team won.
"I don't feel any guilt," Munchak said. "For us, really the obvious answer is there's nothing we can do about who's officiating games. It's the same for everybody, so go out and don't get caught up in all that."
The league and the officials' union met Sunday without reaching any agreement on ending the lockout that began in June. The players' union also called on the 32 team owners to end the lockout because it is compromising the integrity of the game.
While most of the coaches are being careful what they say about the replacements, the players and broadcasters are less inhibited.
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