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“And it would have taken me four plays to get that. Now I can get it in one.”

With four receivers running downfield and six men blocking, “the quarterback has all day to throw,” Broncos safety Mike Adams said. “And then you’ve got freak athletes like Calvin Johnson now. They blow it up.”

When receivers are covered downfield, the quarterback is checking down to the running back who used to make a living pounding the ball between the tackles but now catches a break sometimes by hauling in the short, high-percentage passes for bigger gains and less punishment.

The proliferation of points really starts with the almighty dollar, suggests former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards, now an ESPN analyst.

“You’re not going to pay a quarterback $15 million and tell him to turn around and hand the ball off,” Edwards said. “You’re not going to play the left tackle $8 million to run block.

“So, let’s not lose sight of the math.”

Or the replacement officials, for that matter.

There have been 45 pass interference flags thrown so far, compared with 31 through two weeks last year, 24 in 2010 and 18 in 2009, according to STATS LLC. So, drives are staying alive.

Even though they’re throwing plenty of flags, the replacements are also letting a lot of contact go, Edwards said.

“It’s great. I love watching it because they’re letting them play football,” he said. “They’re hitting receivers downfield a little longer, they’re holding onto to them, the receivers are pushing, corners grabbing a little bit. That’s how the game used to be played.”

Other players point to the dearth of flags for offensive holding, although Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh isn’t so sure the regular officials would do things any differently.

“Holding has always been a part of this game and I’ve known that since an early age. At this level, as well as the college level, it’s seldom called,” Suh said. “It’s just a part of the game.”

Nobody seems to expect the scoring will slow down anytime soon.

Las Vegas casinos predict this weekend’s NFL games will be the highest-scoring ever thanks to the replacement officials. Oddsmakers say casinos are changing their expectations as the rookie officials add new variables to the game, changing its pace and the approaches taken by players and coaches alike.

Gambling expert RJ Bell of Pregame.com says casinos expect an average of 46.1 points per game for Week 3 _ the highest projected total ever for Las Vegas casinos.

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