|Referee Gene Steratore and Ravens coach John Harbaugh share a laugh before the game. (US Presswire)|
For an indication of just how beside-themselves-ecstatic everyone (save Packers fans) is about the return of the full-time officials, consider what happened before the kickoff of Thursday night's Browns-Ravens game: the stadium erupted in cheers as referee Gene Steratore made his way onto the field.
And we're not talking wine-and-cheese applause, either. It was a standing ovation. Steratore actually stopped, acknowledged the crowd and tipped his cap. Never in the history of sports has that happened.
Of course, reality set in shortly thereafter. With 11:18 left in the first quarter, the Ravens were flagged for the first time on the evening. As Steratore announced that left tackle Michael Oher had been called for holding, a smattering of boos ensued.
Still, we'll take that compared to what we've all had to endure the three previous weeks.
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