By Chris Chase, USA TODAY
The grudging "eh, they could be worse" evaluation of replacement referees lasted exactly one week. Following dozens of awkward, avoidable moments on Sunday, players (like Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis), coaches (Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan) and fans (from all 32 teams, regardless of whether Sunday brought a win or a loss) appeared to hit an early breaking point.
More impartial observers are too. Here's a sampling of some of the replacement ref vitriol in Monday's columns.
"But oh, the officiating. The officiating is not watchable. What happened Sunday in St. Louis was a travesty, from beginning to end. The league and the union must put aside their differences, get back in a room and hammer something out, because -- and I can't believe I'm writing these words -- the integrity of the game is at stake." - Tracee Hamilton, Washington Post
"Last week I thought the replacement officials were adequate. Watching football Sunday, I felt like a passenger in a car going 20 miles an hour too fast on a mountain road with hairpin turns; we weren't going to die, but it was going to be a dicey ride." -- Peter King, Sports Illustrated
"I'm officially over it. I know it just began, but it's time for it to end and you all know what I'm talking about. I don't really care what the issues are or which side has the more legitimate argument, the NFL needs the real referees back on the field." -- Mike Pereira, FOXSports.com
"No man with a brain could witness what took place at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon and come to the conclusion that 'the replacements' did anything close to a credible job. They were, in fact, embarrassingly bad in a variety of ways and if Goodell allows the folly to continue deep into the season he will be eroding his own shaky credibility." -- Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Let's try to be polite about this: Head referee Wayne Elliott and his replacement crew got overwhelmed Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. They didn't know the rules. They missed calls left and right. Worst of all, they lost control of the game -- setting up a 'Thunderdome' scenario as the Rams and Redskins took liberties with each other during and after the play. At times, the hapless Elliott looked like a substitute shop teacher trying to break up a classroom hammer fight." -- Jeff Gordon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch