- (PHOTO:REUTERS/Joe Giza )
Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens will commence week 4 of the 2012 NFL season with Thursday Night Football. The match gets underway at 8.20 p.m. ET and can be watched online through live stream (details below).
The match from the M&T Bank Stadium has already become one of the most easgerly anticipated games if the new season, following an announcement that the NFL referee lockout has ended. That means this will be the first game of the NFL season to feature regular NFL referees.
However, some are predicting the game to be one of the most one-sided of the season to date. The Ravens have a record of 2-1 so far, with their only loss coming against Philadelphia by just a single point. Baltimore are being touted as one of the favorites to go far this season.
But on the other hand the Browns are one of just two teams still without a win coming into week 4.
Despite Cleveland's current record they could put up more a fight than many expect. Over recent seasons that have been competitive with their AFC North rivals.
Baltimore are currently second in the league with an average of more than 32 points per game, and they are first in the AFC. Joe Flacco has been one to watch on the team's offense, and he is currently second in the NFL with 913 passing years.
Thousands of fans across the country are set to tune in tonight, many not excited about the teams, but unusually excited about the referees on show. After three weeks of dubious decisions by replacement referees, anger came to a head on Monday Night Football when Seattle gained a last second win over Green Bay in controversial circumstances.
However, to the delight of coaches, players and fans, the NFL referee lockout came to an end just in time for tonight's game. As soon as an agreement was reached midnight Thursday it was announced that regular referees would be returning to action from tonight. And the NFL has ensured a truly experienced group of referees take charge tonight, with more than 70 years experience between the group.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has issued an apology to fans who have had to endure a problematic opening three weeks of the season. Goddell said in a press conference: "Obviously when you go through something like this, it's painful for everybody. Most importantly, it's painful for fans. We're sorry to have to put fans through that. Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term."
"We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games," NFL Referees Association President Scott Green said.
Although indications are that the deal will be made permanent, the agreement must be first ratified by 51 percent of the union's 121 members. A vote is expected to take place on Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Texas.
The referees coming in for Thursday night Football are:
Referee Gene Steratore: 10 years of NFL experience
Umpire Bill Schuster: 13 years
Head linesman Wayne Mackie: 6 years
Line judge Jeff Seeman: 11 years
Field judge Bob Waggoner: 16 years
Side judge Jimmy DeBell: 4 years
Back judge Greg Steed: 10 years
Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens will start at 8.20 p.m. ET. and can be watched online through live stream by clicking here.