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Referee Gene Steratore on Index Card Ruling: 'Nothing More Than a Reaffirmation'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2017

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Referee Gene Steratore #114 throws the ball during a game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

RefereeΒ Gene Steratore defended his odd decision to use an index card to help determine a critical first down in Sunday's game between the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, saying its use was "nothing more than a reaffirmation."

"Didn't use the card to make the final decision,"Β Steratore told reporters. "The final decision was made visually. The card was used nothing more than a reaffirmation of what was visually done. My decision was visually done based on the look from the pole."

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Use of the folded card drew criticism from fans and multiple members of the Raiders, who felt Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott fell short on a 4th-and-1 run from the Dallas 39-yard line. Broadcast angles appeared to show space between the spot of the ball and first-down marker.

"I don't want to get fined, OK?" Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "I'm not happy with the way things were done in a lot of different situations throughout the night. They did the best that they could. I had a different viewpoint. I saw air. It was pretty obvious. Again, they do the best they can with a tough job."

Steratore said the index card touched the ball when he placed it down for the reaffirmation.

"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."

The first down helped spur Dallas on a game-winning drive that ended in a 19-yard Dan Bailey field goal. Derek Carr fumbled into the end zone on the Raiders' final possession to give Dallas a 20-17 win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Well, I love any game that will allow you to just stick it in the pile and then come back and measure it with a piece of cigarette paper," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

The Raiders' loss dropped them to 6-8, all but ending any chance they had at making a last-ditch effort to win the AFC West.

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