Steratore had to make a trip to the replay monitor for the same play to review a turnover. The replays clearly showed that Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs had fumbled, so Steratore confirmed the ruling on the field. Cribbs had his helmet knocked off and was injured on the play, creating the only lengthy delay in the first three quarters.
There were 12 penalties called through three quarters, mostly the familiar calls for holding and false start. There was a rare — and indisputable — whistle for fair catch interference on a punt return on Cleveland, and a hands-to-the-face call on Baltimore’s Mitchell Schwartz was so obvious that it drew three flags.
Steratore and his crew set up shop in the designated ‘‘Officials Locker Room’’ in the bowels of the stadium. He emerged about 2½ hours before kickoff to talk briefly to a stadium official about the wireless on-field microphone the referee wears. He later held a regular pregame meeting with stadium crew, telling them to ‘‘make sure we run this thing as smoothly’’ as they had in his previous visits to Baltimore.
Steratore then walked down the tunnel and onto the field, pacing the sidelines with little fanfare because he was still wearing his coat and tie.
The lockout ended after marathon negotiations produced an eight-year agreement to end the lockout that began in June. However, for the Packers, Redskins, Lions and other teams who voiced their displeasure with calls that might have swayed games, the agreement doesn’t change their records.
The commissioner said he watched Monday night’s frenetic Packers-Seahawks finish at home.
‘‘You never want to see a game end like that,’’ he said.
The new agreement will improve officiating in the future, Goodell asserted, reducing mistakes like those made Monday and making the strains of the last three weeks worthwhile.
Goodell acknowledged ‘‘you’re always worried’’ about the perception of the league.
‘‘Obviously, this has gotten a lot of attention,’’ he said. ‘‘It hasn’t been positive, and it’s something that you have to fight through and get to the long term. ... We always are going to have to work harder to make sure we get people’s trust and confidence in us.’’
The dispute even made its way to the campaign trail, with President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, calling Thursday ‘‘a great day for America.’’
‘‘The president’s very pleased that the two sides have come together,’’ Carney said.
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington, and AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg in Baltimore, Larry Lage in Allen Park, Mich., Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
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