NFL: Ref's use of index card was 'very unusual'

NFL referee Gene Steratore used a folded card to make a ruling on an important fourth-down call, on what would be the Cowboys' winning drive in a win over the Raiders.

Kahron Spearman

The NFL calls referee Gene Steratore's decision to use a folded card to help decide a Dallas Cowboys' first down Sunday night was "very unusual." However, he didn't violate any league rules, an NFL spokesman said Monday.

Steratore used a folded index-like card to measure the distance between the ball's tip and the end-pole on the first-down chains. 

He concluded that Dallas indeed converted the fourth-down attempt, which extended what ended up being Dallas' winning drive in their 20-17 must-win over the Oakland Raiders.

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 ruling on the field left both teams confused, especially Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio who was not happy on Monday.

"The guy ran out there with the camera and put the camera right on it so the whole world got to see what it was," he told reporters. "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 get up with a smirk? I don't know. That's hard to take."