Dallas Cowboys

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio on measurement: ‘I saw air’

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Dallas Cowboys players deliver gifts and sign autographs for patients at Cook Children’s Hospital.
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Dallas Cowboys players deliver gifts and sign autographs for patients at Cook Children’s Hospital.

Oakland coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t believe the Dallas Cowboys converted a crucial fourth-and-1 play late in the fourth quarter.

Why?

“I saw air,” Del Rio said during his postgame news conference. “I thought it was pretty obvious.”

Facing a fourth-and-1 at their own 39 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott ran the ball up the middle into a pile of bodies.

When the chains were brought out to measure, referee Gene Steratore used a folded sheet of paper to see if there was any separation between the nose of the ball and the yard marker.

He followed with a first-down signal.

Del Rio disagreed.

“I don’t want to get fined. I’m not happy with the way things were done, a lot of different situations throughout the night. They did the best they could,” Del Rio said. “I had a different viewpoint. I saw air.”

That first down led to a Dallas field goal and a 20-17 lead with 1:44 left in the game.

Del Rio’s frustration would end there.

With 31 seconds left to play after reaching the Cowboys’ 8 yard line, quarterback Derek Carr fumbled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. Carr was scrambling on a third-and-3 play when he was hit by safety Jeff Heath and the ball bounced into and out of the end zone for a touchback.

“It just felt like a normal play. I could tell he was getting close to the end zone and I just tried my best to keep him out and thankfully he reached his hand out and he fumbled,” Heath said.

Heath couldn’t recall initially if he had knocked the ball out of Carr’s hand or not.

“Hopefully, I don’t know. That’s tough when you’re laid out like that and you’re fully extended and someone hits him, it’s tough to hold onto the ball, unless you’re Aaron Rodgers, obviously,” Heath said.

Del Rio said he thought Carr played well in the game.

“He took off and made some plays with his feet. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that play goes another inch or two the other way, it’s a different feel right now,” Del Rio said. “I’m proud of that group of men, including Derek.”

Dallas moves to 8-6. The Raiders fall to 6-8. There are two weeks left in the regular season.

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