GREEN BAY, WIS.- The regular officials' return to the NFL could boost the Packers offense in a small but important way.
The regular refs are able to spot the ball and keep play moving in a more timely fashion than the replacements were, allowing the Packers to use a fast-paced tempo that can get Aaron Rodgers in rhythm and unsettle opposing defenses.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy went into the season wanting to use a lot of no-huddle. But it simply wasn't as effective when replacement officials were spending extra time getting things sorted out between plays.
With the regular refs back, the Packers were able to dictate their preferred faster pace in Sunday's 28-27 victory over New Orleans.
"I thought their communication did make a big difference, clearly," McCarthy said. "The professionalism of the officials, the communication, the management of the game -- it was definitely a totally different atmosphere.
"I think that was very evident if you paid attention to how fast the offenses were playing, and the management of the game was able to keep up. It was great to have that part back for us and great to have them back."
McCarthy added: "But let's not be foolish here -- there's going to be calls every week that not everybody agrees with."
Certainly, the regular officials' return didn't spare the Packers from some controversial calls Sunday -- most notably an apparent fumble on a late kickoff return by the Saints' Darren Sproles, who was ruled down by contact.
The Saints kept the ball and were in position to kick a go-ahead field goal. But after a pair of penalties, Garrett Hartley missed a 48-yard attempt and Green Bay held on to win.