You know the replacement referees are a debacle when a player gets injured on a dirty play that wasn't flagged, and no one notices because it wasn't even the worst uncalled dirty play of the quarter.
That honor goes to Pittsburgh's Ryan Mundy going helmet-to-helmet on Darius Heyward-Bey, requiring a neck brace and stretcher for Heyward-Bey. But later in the fourth, on what would be the Raiders' game-winning drive, Steelers DE Ziggy Hood was locked up with Oakland guard Mike Brisiel when his left knee was taken out from the side by tackle Willie Smith. The hit straddled the line between cut block and chop block, but the Steelers were immediately furious. LB Larry Foote began jawing with the refs, as did Hood as he was being helped off the field.
In the Oakland Coliseum, the visiting team's and referees' locker rooms are across the hall from each other, and both must take the same tunnel off the field. After the final play, Foote made a beeline for the locker room to get there at the same time as the officials. Jory Rand of CBS Pittsburgh saw what went down.
Larry Foote was the first Steeler to exit the field. I was set up nearby for our postgame show, and heard someone scream, "You should go kill yourselves. Y'all (bleep)ing suck!"
I leaned around the corner and saw Foote enter the Steelers room, while several officials, entering their room, craned their neck to see who it was that had yelled at them.
Foote had already left the room by the time media was allowed in so we were unable to ask him about it.
Scoring is up across the league, and defenses will eagerly tell you a big part of that is the refs. Naturally more inclined to swallow the whistle than draw attention to themselves by calling a penalty that doesn't exist, the refs are letting the already-borderline-dirty tactics of linemen go unexamined. Pass-rushers have already complained about the absence of offensive holding calls. And if we know anything about football players, it's that they'll push and push to see just how much they're allowed to get away with. For Larry Foote, a frustrating no-call in a frustrating game in a frustrating young season was just his breaking point.