Fortunately, the deal was agreed upon on Wednesday night and allowed the regular officials to return to action Thursday night before the NFLRA even finalized the deal by voting on it. The vote on the new eight-year labor deal was made and approved by the officials this morning. Which means the end to the lockout was finally made official.
Week 4 got underway in rainy Baltimore two nights ago, as the now 3-1 Baltimore Ravens knocked off the feisty, yet winless, Cleveland Browns.
It was Cleveland's defense, led by linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, that kept the Browns in the game all the way through. Sacking quarterback Joe Flacco four times and picking him off once more, in addition to holding Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to just 49 yards on 18 carries, allowed Cleveland to limit Baltimore's offense to just 23 points.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and his offense were forced to settle for three field goals and had two turnovers, therefore preventing any further damage than the team's 16 points. Weeden did look pretty solid on the team's final drive of the game.
Though the team failed to knot the game up at 23 in the end, Weeden drove the team 72 yards down the field on 10 plays. It took just over a minute and was helped out by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Baltimore's Paul Kruger, but Weeden showed poise and patience in the pocket. His desperation pass to Greg Little fell to the ground as time expired, but I think Weeden managed to walk off the field with a bit more self-confidence after keeping it close against a defense of Baltimore's caliber.
But no matter what happened in the Cleveland/Baltimore showdown, we all knew that the return of the officials was going to steal the show on Thursday. And that they did.
In fact, they were basically given a standing ovation as they took the field prior to the start of the game. The National Football League is back, and it's integrity appears to have been restored after zero controversial calls were made. It's a great feeling heading in to Sunday's slate of games, isn't it?
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