After the preseason teaser that is the Hall Of Fame Game, we got our first glimpse of the NFL's replacement referees during last night's slate of pro football action. The verdict? Just ask Bill Belichick, who despite an NFL ban on teams commenting on officiating suggested we seek the opinion of Mike Pereira. (Pereira's been extremely critical of the replacement refs.)
But how bad were they, really? We compiled the worst moments we found from last night's games. Some are petty misstatements, others flat-out terrible calls or missed calls. Let's go to the video replay:
Washington vs. Buffalo
The most egregiously bad call of the evening came from this game, as officials called a touchback on a punt that was clearly downed at the five yard line. It's kind of astonishing to figure out how they came to this conclusion; from the call on the field, it sounds like one of the officials believed the ball to have entered the end zone. This is alarming, because it means referees are already assuming things they haven't actually seen; we'd rather they miss something that actually happened than make up things that didn't. The second call is an example of this, though embarrassingly so. Bills receiver Stevie Johnson is shoved down by a defensive back without a call being made. Even the Redskins announcers admit it was a missed penalty.
Baltimore vs. Atlanta
So here's referee Craig Ochoa, whose experience in the Lingerie Football League is still under debate. He sparkled in this game, calling Atlanta "Arizona" twice and then being forced to whistle a play dead because the ball was spotted before any of the officials checked the chain gang. This infuriated Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, and rightfully so; checking down marker status is Pop Warner League-level.