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NFL replacement refs' mistakes anger players

Referee Jim Core, center, gestures alongside other game

Referee Jim Core, center, gestures alongside other game officials before a game between the Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. (Sept. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

One official was pulled from duty because he's a fan. Another negated a touchdown without throwing a penalty flag. Several others had trouble with basic rules.

Upon further review, Week 2 was a poor one for the NFL's replacement officials. Coaches and players around the league are losing patience and speaking out against the fill-ins after a slew of questionable calls in Sunday's games.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has seen enough. "The time is now," he said. "I just know teams and the league are being affected by it. And so if they want the league to have the same reputation it's always had, they'll address the problem.

"Get the regular referees in here . . . We already have controversy enough with the regular refs calling the plays."

Just hours before kickoff Sunday, the NFL removed side judge Brian Stropolo from the New Orleans-Carolina game because it was discovered he's a Saints fan.

Then came the on-field problems. Although some mistakes were judgment calls, the more egregious errors appear to be misinterpretations of rules.

In St. Louis' 31-28 victory over Washington, Rams coach Jeff Fisher challenged a second-quarter fumble by running back Steven Jackson near the goal line and it was overturned. The Rams ended up kicking a field goal, which was the margin of victory.

The problem there was that a coach is not allowed to challenge a play when a turnover is ruled on the field. It should have been a 15-yard penalty on Fisher.

In the Browns-Bengals game, the clock kept running after an incomplete pass.

"Missed calls & bad calls are going to happen," Browns linebacker Scott Fujita wrote on Twitter. "That's part of the deal & we can all live with it. But not knowing all the rules and major procedural errors are completely unacceptable. Enough already."

Despite the public outrage, the league backed the replacements, mostly small-college officials who have been studying NFL rules for a few months.

"Officiating is never perfect,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press. "The current officials have made great strides and are performing admirably under unprecedented scrutiny and great pressure."

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