Dallas Cowboys

Still pissed: Del Rio bothered by index card, referee’s smirk on 4th down play


Still pissed: Del Rio bothered by index card, referee’s smirk on 4th down play

ALAMEDA – The NFL might call Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio to explain what happened on that wacky, ultimately pivotal fourth-down call in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to Dallas.

Del Rio will listen, but “I’m doing to disagree with it. I know what I saw. I saw it myself from the sideline.”

Del Rio’s vantage showed space between football and first down marker following a Dak Prescott’s quarterback sneak with roughly five minutes left. That was enough for an easy decision.

“Just stretch the chain and if it’s inside, if there’s space, it goes the other way,” Del Rio said during his Monday afternoon press conference. “I thought everything was in place to get an accurate call and I saw space and in my opinion, it should have gone the other way and a turnover on downs.”

Referee Gene Steratore didn’t agree. He gave Dallas a first down that sparked Dan Bailey’s decisive 19-yard field goal.

Del Rio knew about that. He hadn’t heard about the folded index card used to aid Steratore’s decision until after.

“I didn’t see any index card last night. I saw it only on social media,” Del Rio said. “I did not see that process happen. I saw the chain. Like I said, I saw space and I was like, ‘Alright, they just made a big error going for it right there and this is a turning point.’ It’s four (minutes) and change in the game and we’ve got the ball on the 40 going the other way. That was pretty ballsy and it really didn’t work, except they got the fortuitous reaction from the crew.”

Del Rio didn’t agree with the call, one he considered crystal clear in person and using Sunday Night Football’s invasive cameras. He certainly didn’t appreciate Steratore’s reaction to the first down call. Not one bit.

“The guy ran out there with the camera and put the camera right down on it, so the whole world got to see what it was,” Del Rio said. “It’s not like we’re making something up. The guy with the camera was right there. So how you can look at that and then get up with a smirk… I don’t know, that’s hard to take.”

Del Rio also found it hard to stomach three touchdowns getting taken off the board. He agreed that Sean Smith’s pick should’ve been brought back. He was touched before returning it 22 yards to the end zone. He agreed a holding call helped spring Cordarrelle Patterson’s kickoff return touchdown.

Having Jared Cook’s touchdown called back for offensive pass interference late in the second quarter was tough to take. Cook made aggressive contact with Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, boxed him out and caught an easy touchdown. The officials thought the act was illegal. Del Rio disagrees.

“I thought we had a touchdown. I think it should’ve been a touchdown,” Del Rio said. “It was not ruled a defensive hold, which it was. Instead it was ruled as offensive pass interference and they took it off the board. That was disappointing. I think the tape verifies that. It was disappointing. Then we missed the field goal. So, we missed an opportunity there.”

Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call


Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call

OAKLAND – The Raiders’ 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night swung on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down measurement so close a result was hard to determine.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s sneak on 4th-and-inches didn’t get far, and possession wasn’t perceptible right away. Officials brought first-down markers to midfield for a measurement with five minutes left in the game.

A Cowboys first down was awarded. Eventually. Officials took a long look at the ball in relation to the sticks, and then used a folded index card as part of their decision.

Referee Gene Steratore told a pool reporter after the game that the card wasn’t part of the original decision.

“That was already finished,” Steratore said. “The ball was touching the pole. I put the card in there and as soon as it touched, it was nothing more than a reaffirmation. The decision was made based on my visual from the top looking down and the ball touching the front of the pole.”

Steratore was asked why the card was used at all, and Steratore reiterated that the card did not make the judgment. Steratore had not used a card before, even as affirmation for a first-down decision.

“It’s maybe been done at some point in someone’s career but I didn’t use the card for my decision,” Steratore said. “I used my visual looking at the ball reaching the pole.”

If all that sounds confusing, it should. It certainly was for the Raiders, who lost a golden opportunity to win a game. Dan Bailey’s 19-yard field goal concluded that drive and created the final margin for victory.

The Raiders had an opportunity to win the game later in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Derek Carr fumbled through the end zone trying to cross the goal line and win the game with 30 second left, which is a turnover and a touchback by rule.

That swing first-down decision, however, really stuck with the Raiders after the game.

“I don’t want to get fined, okay?” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m not happy with the way things were done…(I’ve) never seen air like that and have it somehow turn into a first down. There was air between the ball and the stick. That’s short. The ball goes the other way. Period.”

Raiders middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman was in the thick of things, and was flummoxed by the spot, the decision and that Dallas was awarded a first down he doesn’t believe it earned.

“If you could be in the circle and see where that ball was, I don’t see how they got that,” Bowman said. “For them to pull that paper out to solidify the first down? There was space between the ball and the sticks. I just don’t know.”

What they're saying: Raiders, social media react to controversial folded paper


What they're saying: Raiders, social media react to controversial folded paper

The Raiders lost Sunday night to the Cowboys, 20-17, by inches in Oakland. Literally. 

Derek Carr's fumble as he flew through the air was the final outcome, but another play kept the Cowboys alive. With 4:49 left and the score tied 17-17, the Cowboys went for it on 4th and 1. 

The ball was so close to the either being a first down or a turnover on downs, the referee used a folded piece of an index card to determine the outcome. The call stood as a first down and Dan Bailey eventually nailed a 19-yard field goal to give Dallas the lead.

Several Raiders went to Twitter to show their frustrations. 

Others joined in too.