NFL Preseason: Replacement Refs Are Awful, Andrew Luck And RGIII Are Not

Aug 9, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) dances to music on the sideline near the end of the game against the Buffalo Bills at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Redskins beat the Bills 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

The replacement referees were awful while Andrew Luck and RGIII were not. A recap of Week 1 in the preseason.

A full weekend of preseason in the books with just Monday Night Football to come. We saw Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III take snaps in their first NFL games; the replacement refs were evaluated and the results are not good; Michael Vick was hurt, but he'll be OK; and Chad Johnson dropped a pass on Friday, (allegedly) head-butted his wife on Saturday and then walked out of jail on Sunday.

All in a weekend's work for the NFL. If you're avoiding the preseason because the games don't count, the highlights below will catch you up on what you missed.

Replacement refs are awful

I'm putting this up top because the more we shine the spotlight on this the more pressure there is for the league and the NFL Referees Association to end their stalemate. (Yes, I'm trying to take credit for the end of the referee lockout.) The referees' work over the weekend included multiple mistakes, some small and some major.

And some more flat-out inexcusable, like what happened in Friday's Redskins-Bills game. After an incomplete pass on third-and-10, Bills punter Brian Moorman came onto the field for fourth down. He booted the ball down the field and the Bills downed it just inside the 5-yard line.

Simple enough, right?

Except ... the (replacement) referee said it was a touchback. It wasn't even close to a touchback. A bad call would be the referee thinking it was a touchback but there is no reasonable explanation for calling this a touchback.


A sampling of the TV broadcast announcers trying to figure out what's going on:

  • "What was ...? I didn't get to hear what he said at the beginning."
  • "For some reason they say the ball went into the end zone and it turned into a touchback. Uh ... I don't know why."
  • "They blew it dead after he made the catch and fell down at the 3. I don't understand what they're trying to call here."
  • "That's a bad call."
  • "Yeah, that deserves an explanation."
When I wrote in June that replacement referees could be a disaster, I didn't think it would be mistakes this bad.

Maybe Andrew Luck really is that good

Well, then. The player lives up to the hype. The Colts put up 38 points in their 2012 preseason debut and looked extremely good on offense, particularly early in the game with Luck at the helm. He finished completing 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards, along with two touchdowns.

The beginning of a new era? Judge for yourself.

The first touchdown pass, 63 yards to Donald Brown:


The second one, 23 yards to Austin Collie:


Robert Griffin III doesn't disappoint either

The expectations for RGIII seem to be growing by the day, and he looked sharp in the Redskins' preseason opener. Passing 4-for-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown, RGIII seemed calm, cool and collected. He was not rattled and didn't exhibit any characteristics that made you think, 'Oh, he's a rookie all right.'

Redskins fans were impressed, but ready to see more. "But remember, the defense was very simple in terms of coverages, and it was also a very vanilla offense from the Redskins," SB Nation's Hogs Haven writes. "I'm eager to see how he handles a varied offense against more complex defenses."

Michael Vick gets hurt, we all curse the preseason

When you saw Michael Vick's finger crash into the helmet of center Jason Kelce, fantasy GM and Eagles fans everywhere nearly had a heart attack.


Luckily, the injury Vick suffered in the Eagles' preseason victory isn't a big deal. It's just a bruise, and he'll be fine. But the thought of Vick breaking his thumb or hand in the first quarter of the first preseason game isn't something that'll sit well with those in the fantasy football world. Or Eagles fans (who are known to be rational and forgiving when unfortunate things happen to their sports teams).

This is how a quarterback avoids injury in the preseason

Take it away, Derek Anderson:


A little Brett Favreish there.

Still doesn't look right


An OK start for Peyton Manning in Broncos' colors. He went 4-for-7 for 44 yards including an interception that was tipped (but not a perfect pass, thrown slightly behind him). He looked as good as he could, considering what this was -- a glorified scrimmage. He proved he could still play but we haven't seen him take a big lick or launch one downfield yet.

Related: Manningface!

A reminder that the regular season is better

As if you needed it. The Saints vs. Patriots would've been one of the season's best matchups of the year if it were held in the regular season. Instead, we were treated to one of the most boring preseason games of the week. The Patriots won, 7-6. Drew Brees attempted four passes; Tom Brady attempted seven. The only sorta, kinda notable thing is that Brady was sacked pretty hard, but he wasn't hurt.

You didn't need it but just a reminder that the regular season is a gazillion times better than the preseason.

Chad Johnson drops pass, gets arrested and then released

Hell of a weekend for Chad Johnson.

The Dolphins' receiver dropped the lone pass thrown to him in Friday's preseason opener, allegedly head-butted his wife of a month the following night and spent the evening in jail after authorities arrested him.

To top it off, the Dolphins cut him on Sunday.

There are plenty of ironic things about this situation.

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