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Replacement refs get the job done in season opener

So far, so good for replacement officials in the regular season.

The seven-man crew working the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys opener on Wednesday night was far from perfect, but that wasn't expected, either. The bar is set at general competence, which the replacements appeared to achieve in Dallas' 24-17 win.

The biggest mistake came on a third down play in the second quarter, when Dallas nickel back Orlando Scandrick got away with a clear holding call on Victor Cruz near the goal line. The result should've been first-and-goal for the Giants from the Cowboys 1. Instead, New York settled for a 22-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal. It was a non-call that likely cost the Giants four points.

The crew, led by head referee Jim Core (who's an eighth-grade geography teacher in Idaho, according to Peter King) enforced 17 penalties by the end of the night, including 13 on the visiting Cowboys.

The NFL folks on Park Avenue surely had their fingers crossed all night. A ghastly performance by officials would've been a dominant talking point on Thursday morning. That won't be the case, which only helps the league's leverage in the standoff against locked-out officials.

Of course, the regular refs shouldn't feel too down here. There are 15 more games on the schedule this week, featuring replacement crews that will be far weaker than the group that worked at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday.

So if you're rooting for gross incompetence -- and we know you are, Ed Hochuli! -- hope is not lost.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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