(Eds: With AP Photos.) By TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Columnist Rarely has Week 3 been so important in the NFL.
Get through it without mayhem breaking out around the league and the replacement referees might start clearing their calendars for colder days. Have something happen that affects a game or injures a player and the real referees may soon be back wearing stripes.
The NFL is betting that it still wields the big hammer in its contract dispute with league officials, despite a Monday night game that nearly veered out of control. But it badly needs a Sunday without controversy to help quiet the growing criticism of fill-ins who clearly aren't ready for prime time.
To make sure it gets one, the message went out this week to coaches and players alike: Behave, or else.
Get out of line like Denver coach John Fox did while arguing with the officials in the Monday night game in Atlanta and expect flags, fines or even a suspension. Treat the referees like the scabs most players and coach...