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Broncos-Falcons replacement refs have rough night

When Jon Gruden says a game of football is hard to watch, we've got a problem.

The perpetually positive, football-obsessed ESPN announcer couldn't take it anymore during the first half the Atlanta Falcons' win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The half was filled with delays, overturned calls and a general lack of confidence from the officials.

"Honestly. It's embarrassing. The command and control of this game is gone," play-by-play man Mike Tirico said. This was early in the second quarter. The game already was 90 minutes old.

Monday night was not a good night for the replacement officials. Week 2 was not a good week for them, overall.

Football is a game built for television; a two hour first half does not make for good television.

At one point, there was a six-minute delay after Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno fumbled. Players pushed and shoved each other. Players appeared to put their hands on officials. Players ran on the field from the bench. In the end, there only was one penalty given out. If felt like there was little rhyme or reason to it all. It felt chaotic and familiar after watching the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles have similar issues in their game Sunday.

There were other moments to forget. The Falcons appeared to get a penalty called for complaining. Another flag was picked up mysteriously. The game lasted more than three and a half hours.

In one sense, the NFL is a victim of its own success. We expect more.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed out that the level of February's Pro Bowl wasn't NFL-quality. He also said recently that fans don't react positively to the four-game preseason because it's "not the kind of standard that the NFL is used to producing."

Monday night's performance by the officials was not up to NFL standards. The officiating stalemate is beginning to detract from the game.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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