- Associated Press - Thursday, September 6, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The NFL kicked off the season with replacement referees and, for the most part, nothing seemed different.

Jim Core’s seven-man crew seemingly didn’t make any blunders, although there were a couple of calls that both teams questioned.

Of course, that’s no different than with the regular crews. Officials are questioned every game about calls and this one was no different.

The Giants probably had the biggest beef after their 24-17 loss to the Cowboys on Wednesday night.

With the game scoreless in the second quarter, Eli Manning threw a third-down pass from the Dallas 4 to Victor Cruz. Dallas defender Orlando Scandrick clearly hit Cruz early but back judge Larry Babcock declined to throw a flag.

Manning complained but to no avail.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Scandrick did more than hold Cruz, clearly hinting his receiver was mugged.

“We have people in position where they are trying to do the very best they can,” Coughlin said of the officials. “We can yell and scream all we want on the sidelines but that’s the nature of what we have in front of us. They try as hard as they can. They are very vocal and very easy to work with. They come and talk to you about the way the game will be controlled. That part of it is just part of the game, Anybody can miss a call.”

Coughlin, however, also noted it came in a key situation and prevented the Giants from getting a first-and-goal at the 1.

Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also felt he was held on Tony Romo’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree with 1:01 left in the half, a play which gave Dallas a 7-3 lead it never lost.

Core was good though. He never stumbled explaining any play in addressing the crowd and he was absolutely correct in calling Cowboys tackle Jason Hatcher for a blow to the head against Manning in the fourth quarter.

Most of the penalties went against Dallas, which was whistled 13 times for 86 yards. The Giants were called for four penalties for 33 yards.

“No problems, just as we’ve been saying all along,” NFL executive Ray Anderson said at halftime of the officiating:

None of the replacement officials had more than nine years’ experience and only one member has worked Division I college games. The rest have handled lower divisions and other leagues.

“I would love to have the best officials on the field, but I have to look at this long-term,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said when asked Wednesday afternoon about the impasse with regular officials during an hour-long forum with fans from all 32 teams.

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