Well, the lockout that was having more of an impact on the outcome of games than I think anyone was expecting has officially come to an end.
The NFL and the referee association came to an agreement on Wednesday, just 2 days after what many are calling one of the biggest blunders in NFL officiating history. If you saw that Monday Night game between Seattle and Green Bay, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. What should have been a game ending interception by Green Bay in the end zone was miscalled and was ruled a catch by Golden Tate, who didn't even have a hand on the ball when the Packers defender came down with it. That was the most publicized miscall to come from these replacement refs, but they've been atrocious since game one between the Giants and Cowboys. I know one guy who will be extremely pleased to see the return of the professional zebra's is 49ers coach Jim Harbough. The replacement refs did about everything they could to prevent the 49ers from beating Green Bay in week one but the 49ers prevailed. They didn't have such luck in week 3 in Minnesota though, as the refs again played a big role in the 49ers 24-13 loss. Now that the real officials have returned and your looking to do some wagering on upcoming games, check players rewards card!
As bad as the officiating was in last Sunday's game though, the 49ers really didn't play well. It was the worst game I've seen them play since early 2011, as it looked like they completely underestimated the Vikings, which is something you don't expect to see out of a Jim Harbough coached squad. Their defense looked slower than usual off the ball, and their pass coverage and pass rush was nowhere near where it was in the first two weeks of the season. It almost seemed like the Vikings and 49ers switched identities before Sunday's game because the 'Vikes were the ones getting pressure on Alex Smith and really making the running game non-existent. Frank Gore ran well with the opportunities he got, collecting 63 yards on 12 carries, but the 49ers were down early and went into passing mode often. Unfortunately for them, Alex Smith didn't have the best of days, turning the ball over for the first time since week 12 of last season not just once, but twice. Smith had both a pick and lost a fumble and couldn't execute when the 49ers needed to keep drives alive.
Across the bay, the Raiders got their first victory of the season in impressive fashion over the Pittsburgh Steelers. We haven't talked much about the Raiders since the start of the season, but they re-inserted themselves into the conversation with that big win last weekend. The Raiders got the Carson Palmer they hope they'll be seeing more often than not, as the former Heisman winner had one of his more efficient games in the Silver and Black. He threw for just 209 yards, but had 3 TD's and a 104 passer rating vs. a top notch defense. The guy that really propelled the Raiders though was start running back Darren McFadden. 'Run DMC' had his first 100-yard game of the season and set the tone early for Oakland with a 64-yard touchdown scamper in the first 3 minutes of play. The Raiders have their holes on defense, but this offense can put up some numbers, and they'll be competitive as long as Palmer and McFadden are on their games.