DAVIE, Fla. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has stopped his players from talking about the replacement referees.
After Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline and Richie Incognito were among Miami players who had ripped the replacements in tweets, Bush said Philbin on Wednesday put the hammer down. Still, Bush couldn't resist one final dig.
"Coach Philbin instructed us not to comment any further on the referee situation," said Bush, who had tweeted after Monday night's debacle that "refs single-handedly blew this one" and "these refs gotta go."
And: "But I will say this, any time you have the President of the United States speak about something like that, then something needs to happen."
With Monday's controversial ending between Green Bay and Seattle fresh in everybody's mind, President Obama tweeted that "fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon."
Incognito, who had questioned the integrity of the game in a radio interview as well as tweeting the "Packers got hosed," and Hartline, who tweeted he "thought (he) was watching Punk'd" and was "waiting for Ashton (Kutcher) to pop out," both declined comment Wednesday. Hartline said, "I'm not allowed to say nothing."
Still, some Dolphins did speak Wednesday about the replacements. In interviews with FOX Sports Florida, defensive tackle Paul Soliai said he believes fewer holding calls are being whistled, and linebacker Karlos Dansby said there's no way the replacements, some having come from college Division III ball, can adjust to the speed of the game.
"There's a lot, like, holding calls (not called)," Soliai said. "There's other stuff they could have seen better. But it don't matter . You get ready for the next play."
Overall, Soliai said, replacements are doing the best they can. Dansby also said he feels that way, but that he is concerned that replacements continuing to work games could hurt the health of players.
"They make some bad calls, they do," Dansby said. "But the original refs make some bad calls, too . But the only thing that's unfortunate is these guys are coming from Division III. They haven't seen (players) on this level. It's totally different rules. It's unfortunate, man, for us as players because our safety is on the line. Somebody gets a helmet-to-helmet and it don't get called. Now, this man is hurt, and it's tough, man. Did you see the chop block on Pittsburgh (by Oakland's Willie Smith last Sunday) that wasn't called?
"They haven't seen (the NFL game) before. They haven't been taught it. It's night and day. The speed of the game is night and day. The technique that's being taught is night and day. Everything is night and day. All the rules are night and day. It's real unfortunate for the game."
That's why Dansby is hoping reports are accurate that the lockout of regular officials soon might end and they could be back on the field as soon as this weekend.
"ASAP," Dansby said of his desire for a quick end to the lockout. "Everybody wants them to come back ASAP."
Still, Dansby expressed compassion for the replacement officials.
"People make mistakes," Dansby said. "They're human. They're not perfect. They don't see this day in and day out like the original refs. The original refs have been doing it for 10 years, five, six years . It's just unfortunate these guys got put in that situation with the lack of experience."
There were plenty of problems before. But it all came to a head Monday, when the Seahawks beat the Packers 14-12 on a pass on the game's final play that looked to have been intercepted by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings but was ruled a touchdown grab by Seattle's Golden Tate.
The NFL released a statement Tuesday that said Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference and that the officials ruled it was a simultaneous possession between the offense and defense, giving the ball to the offense. The NFL said the replay official determined there wasn't indisputable evidence to overturn the call.
"Man, bat the damn ball down like when you have that situation. That's what you get taught to do,'' Dansby said about having no sympathy for the Packers.
Still, Dansby saw plenty of errors Monday while watching on television.
"There was a lot of missed calls in that game, a lot of personal fouls missed in that game, a lot of uncessary roughness missed in that game, illegal touching down the field,'' he said. "There was a lot of stuff missed in that game. But those are the cards you're dealt, so you got to play it."
At least Dansby's Dolphins haven't been victimized by any serious officiating errors in their three games. They might have caught a break in Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets when Anthony Fasano got credit for a third-quarter catch at the Jets 2 when the ball appeared to hit the ground.
Yes, Soliai may say he's being held more often. But Dolphins center Mike Pouncey isn't complaining about anything on his side of ball.
"Knock on wood, but I haven't had a penalty called on me," Pouncey said with a laugh. "Hopefully, that keeps on going. So if they don't keep calling them, I like these refs."
One supposes speaking favorably about refs does not violate Philbin's crackdown. Philbin himself said the officials "have done a good job in our games."
As for his apparent talk to players about keeping their mouths shut, Philbin played it coy, saying, "Why would I do that? It's a free country, isn't it?"
Yes, it is. Perhaps that's why Incognito spoke his mind in a Tuesday interview with WMAQ-AM.
"It's time to get the real officials back," Incognito said. "It's a 9 billion-a-year industry and they're squabbling over money, which I think is ridiculous because there's plenty of money to go around. But I really think that the integrity of the game is severely compromised with situations like (Monday's)."
But Incognito seemed a lot less free to speak Wednesday. He said he's "not touching the referees" and even feigned ignorance when asked if he had been on the radio the day before.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson