Controversial measurement that cost the Raiders a win was not the first time a ref used an index card and it was OK then also

CBS Sports
  • During “Sunday Night Football,” a controversial measurement helped the Dallas Cowboys beat the Oakland Raiders.
  • A referee used an index card to aid the measurement, something that is “very unusual,” but not against the rules.
  • Back in 2013, another first-down measurement was conducted the same way and the league said it was OK then also.

Controversy struck during the “Sunday Night Football” game when a key fourth down measurement was decided with the help of an index card. While the move was certainly unusual, it turns out it wasn’t the first time.

During Week 2 of the 2013 season, the Cleveland Browns went for a first down on fourth down. Like the game on Sunday night, it was not immediately clear if the nose of the ball had reached the first down marker.

CBS sports

Also like the game on Sunday night, referee Bill Vinovich took out his note card, still folded over, and inserted it between the ball and the stick.


Unlike Sunday night night, Vinovich ruled that the Browns were short of the first down.

Here is the video, via the NFL and CBS. Unfortunately, we never get a good view of the card being used for the measurement because of all the players and coaches in the way, but it is clear the card was used as even the announcers noted it.

Just like the measurement that likely cost the Raiders a win, the NFL at the time said there was nothing wrong with using the card to aid in the measurement.

“The measurement was handled in accordance with the rules,”NFL spokesman Michael Signora told the Beacon Journal at the time. “Once the chains are in place, the referee looks at the ball in relation to the line to gain for a first down, as indicated by the chains, and then makes the call. Though it is very unusual to see the referee use a card to aid in the measurement, there is nothing that prohibits it in the rules.”

On Monday, an NFL spokesperson once again called the use of the card “very unusual,” but reaffirmed that the move is not against the rules.

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