It was fun while it lasted -- well, maybe not for the Raiders -- but the era of folded note cards being used to measure first downs is already over. May it rest in peace.
On Thursday, four days after Cowboys converted a crucial fourth down against the Raiders, the NFL head of officials barred all referees from copying Steratore's tactic, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.to help determine if the
NFL head of officials Al Riveron said he has told referees not to use folded note cards on first-down measurements, as happened Sunday night in Cowboys-Raiders game.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 21, 2017
Now, there's a report I never thought I'd be writing about. If you missed what happened, you missed one of the strangest NFL moments in recent memory.
During the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' win over the Raiders, the Cowboys went for a fourth-and-inches from their own 39-yard line. To acquire a first down, the Cowboys ran a quarterback sneak with Dak Prescott. He picked up the first down, but not after a little controversy.
Steratore brought the chains to measure the ball, but that only led to what appeared to be more confusion. He stared at the ball in relation to the chains and in the moment, it looked like he had no idea if the ball cleared the first-down marker. So, he produced a folded index card and proceeded to do something with it that helped him reach the determination that the Cowboys had, in fact, picked up a first down. The Cowboys would go on to kick a game-winning field goal.
Naturally, we were all confused by Steratore's process. His explanation afterward didn't really help either:
And so, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that the NFL's head of officials has banned referees from using index cards to measure first downs, namely because the method makes no sense whatsoever. Still, the short-lived era of using index cards as a tool to measure first downs will never be forgotten. It didn't last long, but boy, did it leave an impression and make a huge impact.
As a result of their win, the Cowboys can still make the playoffs while the Raiders are almost certainly dead.