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Report: Broncos coaches fined for criticizing refs

Broncos head coach John Fox talks to referee during loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2012. (BroncoTalk.net)

Broncos head coach John Fox talks to referee during loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2012. (BroncoTalk.net)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The NFL has fined Denver Broncos head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio for publicly criticizing the league’s replacement referees in last Monday night’s loss to Atlanta, according to multiple reports from ESPN.

According to a ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league has fined Fox $30,000 and Del Rio $25,000 — this after league officials reportedly called both Fox and Del Rio at halftime during a 27-21 loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17. The two coaches were ordered to tone down their sideline antics in the second half.

In the first half of that loss, the league’s crew of replacement officials reversed three of their original calls due to booth reviews. The Broncos needed help from a mandatory review in the final two minutes of the half to reverse another incorrect call after using up their three allotted challenges earlier in the half.

There is no talk of contract negotiations between the NFL and the referees’ union improving. The replacement referees currently have contracts in place to extend their services for two more weeks. [READ: NFL “replacement referees” continue to draw criticism]

Fox and Del Rio aren’t likely to be the last coaches — or players — to be fined by the league for criticizing the replacement referees.

Players and coaches from the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, who faced off in a compelling Sunday night contest on Sept. 23, have been among the most vocal when publicly expressing their displeasure with officiating crews.

Patriots head coach Bill Bellichek was seen physically yanking on the arm of line judge Esteban Garza as he ran off the field following his team’s 31-30 loss. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes tweeted: “Can someone please tell these (expletive) zebras Foot Locker called and they’re needed back at work !!!!” 

Despite the win, the Ravens were also unhappy about a game that saw 24 combined penalties — especially considering they were on the wrong end of 14 of those calls.

Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis voiced his public disappointment with one call in particular that extended a scoring drive for the Patriots.

Ravens safety Ed Reed was flagged on the play for a helmet-to-helmet hit. A later review of the action showed Reed had clearly made an effort to turn his head, and had jarred the football loose from Patriots wide receiver Deon Branch with his shoulder pad.

“You can’t do that to the game,” Lewis said. “You have to let the game take care of itself. One of the biggest plays of the game — (the referees) give them three points.”

“I’m not saying the old refs are perfect,” Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb added, “but it sure would be nice to see them right now.”

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