This is the NFL, Week 2, a 24-23 Eagles victory that was dominated not by great plays as much as it was by scrapes and head-scratching. As replacement referee Robert Frazer and his crew convened repeatedly to decide on what they may or may not have seen, players from both teams did one of two things:
One, they pleaded like lawyers.
Two, they hit each other when Frazer and his men weren't looking.
There were big mass scraps in nearly every quarter. There were two 2-minute warnings at the end of the game. There were comical moments when microphones were accidentally flipped on, another when a back judge, unable to locate his flag, threw a bean bag instead.
"His blue beenie," quipped Ray Lewis.
There were non-calls and odd calls, including a critical offensive pass interference against Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones that turned a fourth-quarter touchdown into a field goal, and allowed the Eagles enough wiggle room to wriggle out another late victory.
This was what made the Ravens, rather than the Eagles, plaintiffs. The Eagles were the more penalized team in the game, and both Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were flagged for the rare defensive-holding calls. The Ravens were also given an extra timeout as they tried to mount a final comeback when the clock was misread and the 2-minute warning was issued at 2:05 instead.
But that's not the point, several said. It's the uncertainty of it all.
"The challenge for us right now is figuring out what constitutes what," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, the author of the "chaotic" line. "What constitutes illegal contact? What constitutes pass interference? We're not sure right now."
"There are things downfield that sometimes they're getting called and sometimes they're not," Flacco said. "We don't know when they are going to be called. But there's definitely a lot of contact going on downfield.
"The NFL always talks about the integrity of the game and stuff like that. I think this is kind of along those lines. Not to say these guys are doing a bad job. But the fact that we don't have the regular guys out there is pretty crazy."
There were 13 penalties, seven by the Eagles, but Harbaugh and his quarterback believed there could have been twice that many if all the clutching and grabbing was called on the Eagles' single-man coverages. (You probably thought you never would live long enough to hear the Ravens complain about borderline legal defensive plays, didn't you?)
The complaints came from both sides of the ball.
"I just think you're going to hear this week in and week out," Lewis said. "I just think honestly we fight too hard. I mean, the game is played the way it's played - but there are some serious calls the refs missed. And it's just the way it is all around the league.
"We have to correct that. Because these games are critical. And guys are giving it everything they've got all across the league. And the calls, if the regular refs were here? We know the way the calls would be made.
"And for the conversations to be had the way they are on the sidelines - 'Oh, if the real refs were here, that call wouldn't be made.' "
Lewis' final point is an excellent one, even if it's not the one he intended to make. Really, Frazer and his crew weren't much more offensive than any other Sunday officiating crews you have seen. But their uncertainty at critical junctures breeds doubt. They are the equivalent of substitute teachers trying to absorb the lesson plan in front of a inherently mischievous classroom.
Take, for example, Lewis' biggest beef, a pass incompletion by Vick on the winning drive that was originally ruled as a recovered fumble. Replays clearly showed Vick's arm going forward when he was hit, and it seems the one consistency of the replacement referees is that they allow plays to finish, then review them. Also, the replay official is not a replacement.
But Lewis went on and on about Vick losing control of the ball, and how, "You can't push the ball when the ball is already shaky.
"You can watch the play a thousand times," he said. "For the ball to be coming out the way it's coming out, how can you overturn that? You have to have certain type of evidence. You can't overturn that.
"Once again, if the regular refs are there, you wouldn't overturn that."
Well, yeah, they would. And they might have flagged Jones for the penalty in the end zone. And they might have screwed up the 2-minute warning, or inadvertently left their microphone on or even conferred a little too much.
But they would have been the regular referees. And every uniformed litigator would have needed other reasons to find them guilty.
As Lewis said finally, smile on his face:
"We already have controversy enough with the regular refs calling things."
Contact Sam Donnellon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @samdonnellon. For recent columns, go to philly.com/SamDonnellon.