Manning needed extra protecting on Thursday. (US Presswire)

Peyton Manning made his Broncos debut against the Bears on Thursday night to mixed reviews. His stats could've been prettier if Denver had let him come back for a goal-line series in the first quarter, and if Ryan Clady hadn't been nailed for a holding call that nullified an 11-yard completion to DeMaryius Thomas.

Clady was miffed about the flag and didn't think he deserved the call. Except, because the NFL is currently using replacement refs, he vented his frustration a little differently, telling Yahoo! Sports Mike Silver that the "rookie" ref who threw the flag did so incorrectly.

"I think it was a [expletive] call," Clady said. "This guy's clearly a rookie. Terrible call. Please quote me."

Clady falls under the category of "every offensive lineman ever penalized" when he complains about being called for holding. But the big difference here is that Clady's leaning on the replacement ref as the cause of the problem.

I happened to be rewatching the start Broncos-Bears game while reading Silver's piece and after seeing the play in question, well, I had to fire up Preseason Live on my iPad and grab some screenshots of the play in question. Since, well, Clady's just wrong.

You'll notice in our first freeze-frame that Corey Wootton clearly beat Clady off the edge and the tackle is trying to leverage him back before Wootton can get in and bear down on Manning's neck. If this were what was flagged, well, that would be an issue.

Clady got beat off the edge by Wootton. (

But it wasn't -- it's pretty obvious that Clady was flagged for ... this:

The chokehold is clearly Clady's finishing move. (

As you can see from the shot above, Clady has Wootton in a chokehold of sorts with Manning having not even released the ball. It seems pretty obvious that this qualifies under the language in the NFL rulebook that states a "blocker cannot use his hands or arms to push from behind, hang onto, or encircle an opponent in a manner that restricts his movement as the play develops."

Emphasis mine, there, but only because the hold is entirely circular in this case.

Manning ultimately completed the pass on a deep comeback to Thomas, a play we shouldn't see the last of this season. It was negated, of course, by the flag.

Is it a big deal that Clady's mad about a holding call? Of course not. There will be many holding calls over the course of the next few months, with many of them mattering much,  much more than this one, which took place in the first week of the preaseason.

What does matter here is that Clady's leaning on the replacement refs as the reason why the call was bad, when it wasn't.

This is something that is happening with fans, players, coaches and the media alike. If replacement refs make bad calls, they should be hammered for it. But they shouldn't be hammered for every single calls as if the regular refs would step on the field and work 60 minutes without a single mistake.

And the replacement refs shouldn't be hammered simply because they're replacements, especially on calls that they don't screw up.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.