Dallas Cowboys

No more paper measurements for NFL officials

Oakland Raiders react on 4th-down index card ruling

The Oakland Raiders fell to the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in a game where the referee made a ruling on 4th down by using a folded index card in the fourth quarter.
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The Oakland Raiders fell to the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in a game where the referee made a ruling on 4th down by using a folded index card in the fourth quarter.

The Dallas Cowboys weren't the first, but they are probably the last team to get a first down determined by a piece of paper pulled from a referee's pocket.

That happened on the game-winning drive in last Sunday's 20-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Now, Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, is advising referees to avoid using paper to determine any on-field rulings as referee Gene Steratore did to reaffirm a crucial first down for the Cowboys against the Raiders.

“When he did bring out the piece of paper, that was very, very unusual,” Riveron said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “The last time I saw it done was about four or five years ago, also in an NFL game, and that's not the norm. Gene made the decision strictly on visual affirmation that the ball made the line to gain.

“I would advise them not to use them again. I've already done that.”

Last Sunday, a quarterback sneak by Dak Prescott on a fourth-and-1 play was too close to call.

Steratore took a piece of paper out of his pocket and stuck it between the ball and the yardstick to confirm what he says he already saw, a first down for the Cowboys.

A few plays later, Dan Bailey kicked the game-winning field goal, held up by a late fumble from the Raiders.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

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