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Al Riveron to NFL referees: No more index cards

Don't expect to see paper cards joining flags and whistles in the referees' on-field toolkit.

Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, is advising referees to steer clear from using paper to determine any on-field rulings after referee Gene Steratore used a card to reaffirm a first down in Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.

"When he did bring out the piece of paper, that was very, very unusual," Riveron said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. "The last time I saw it done was about four or five years ago, also in an NFL game, and that's not the norm. Gene made the decision strictly on visual affirmation that the ball made the line to gain."

"I would advise them not to use them again. I've already done that."

With the game tied in the fourth quarter, Dak Prescott appeared to convert on an critical fourth-and-1 play that required confirmation from the measuring crew. Steratore then brought out the infamous card and used it to confirm what he says he already saw -- that the ball indeed broke the first-down plane. With a slight smile on his face, Steratore then motioned for a Cowboys first down.

Three plays later, Prescott connected on a deep ball to Dez Bryant, setting up the go-ahead field goal from Dan Bailey. The Cowboys went on to win, 20-17. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was left baffled by what he saw.

"Never. Never seen air like that and it somehow got turned into a first down," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "The air between the ball and the stick. That's sure short and it goes the other way. Period."

Although the use of a card or paper to help determine a measurement is within the guidelines, it might be a long time before we see it make an on-field comeback.

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