What's up with the NFL's referees?

The lockout's over, but the bad reffing isn't. Last night the Packers barely beat the New Orleans Saints after a series of crappy calls—and not from replacement refs.

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And we thought 2012 NFL season's crappy calls might end with the lockout. Nope. In last night’s game, the Green Bay Packers (2-2) beat the New Orleans Saints (0-4) by just a point, after more terrible calls, this time by regular refs, not replacements. The Saints couldn’t capitalize in time to secure the win. But imagine the Twittersphere explosion if they had.

Last week it was the botched replacements’ call on the infamous Hail Mary in the Packers vs. Seahawks game that ultimately ended the lockout. This week, with regular referee Jeff Triplette and his team, the Packers just barely survived a series of bad calls: a Saints’ fumble incorrectly ruled down by contact, and a Saints’ touchdown catch that should’ve been called back for offensive pass interference, to name two. Talk about getting worked over by refs.

The outcome? Saints’ Garrett Hartley missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with less than three minutes on the clock, crushing New Orleans shot at taking the lead. Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns (only one interception) to win over the Saints 28-27.

Sure, the scoreboard suggests the Packers have moved on from last week’s loss against the Seattle Seahawks, after all, a win is a win. But in the fourth quarter, Packers fans nearly brought down Lambeau Field when regular refs continued to mess it up. After this letdown of post-lockout expectations for less frustrating calls, this bizarre officiating begs the questions: are bad calls, if simply chalked up to human-error, forgivable? It’s not the first time (and it won’t be the last), so is it part of the game fans must accept?

Last Wednesday, Rodgers denounced an NFL report that supported the replacements’ call during the Packers vs. Seahawks game (he called it “bogus”), but also said, "I think one thing that we really learned from it is, as frustrating as it is, ultimately it's a game judged by people who are imperfect, and there's going to be mistakes."

But perhaps he spoke too soon. Even with regular refs back, the Packers and their fans had blown calls last night that nearly cost them the Saints game. Though the Pack secured the win, it was shaky at that. The Packers’ season is a quarter of the way over, and at two losses, they’ve already lost more games than 2011’s entire regular season. No doubt they’ll have to dig even deeper to put more wins between them and these last two weeks of unstable calls. And while no ref can be expected to call a perfect game, here’s hoping last night was a fluke and this season’s regular officials shape up. 

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