A folded index card played a role in ending the Raiders hopes of making it back to the playoffs.
For a franchise that has been involved in so many infamous moments in football history, it’s fitting that the new school Oakland Raiders took a page out of the old school lore. The difference between ‘Ghost to the Post’ and what we saw on Sunday, however, is that this time around things didn’t slant towards the Raiders favor.
You’ve probably seen the moment on Twitter (accompanied by everyone making the same hilarious and totally original joke) but here it is. With the game on the line and the Cowboys facing fourth down, referee Gene Steratore used a folded index card to determine the Dallas earned a first down.
It’s a game of inches and also a game where we just make it up as we go and measure stuff with giant sticks and pieces of paper. pic.twitter.com/xhDSSTnxNk
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) December 18, 2017
Aside from #PaperGate2017, there were a number of things that went wrong for the Raiders that fans should be pointing to. We all agree that the fact that a $13 billion business using a folded piece of paper to determine the outcome of a game is bogus. It’s not the only bogus thing that happened to the Raiders on Sunday:
The index card didn’t blow coverage downfield the next play
Two plays after the index card first down, the Raiders blew coverage that allowed the Cowboys to move deep inside their territory. Sean Smith was on Dez Bryant, who hauled in a hardly contested 40-yard reception that gave the Cowboys the ball inside of the Raiders 10-yard line.
Index cards may be capable of awarding first dows, but Sean Smith is responsible for his own garbage coverage in crunch time. This came with three minutes left in the game and all but assured the Cowboys would end that drive with points. Luckily it was just a field goal but that ended up being the difference in the game.
It also didn’t miss that field goal before halftime
Speaking of which, the final score the difference of three points. Let’s circle back to not the index card call but a field goal attempt right before halftime. The Raiders were in a position to walk into halftime down by a touchdown but with three points on the board but Giorgio Tavecchio missed a kick and left points on the field.
Those three points ended up being the difference in the end. Assuming he makes the kick, the index card play might have meant the Cowboys game-tying drive was kept alive therefore it wouldn’t have become the game-winner. Then the Raiders might approach the final drive of the game differently knowing that they’re in a position to win with a field goal rather than tie and force overtime. Tavecchio makes that kick before halftime and all of a sudden there’s no need for Derek Carr to play hero ball and ultimately lose the game trying to win it with a walk-off touchdown.
Derek Carr fumbled out of bounds, independent of an index card
That index card was folded firmly in the pocket of Gene Steratore — away from Derek Carr — when he fumbled the ball out of the end zone thus also fumbling away the Raiders season.
Given how many times this has happened already this season, it’s astonishing that it still happens. How many times does a player have to fumble out of bounds and have the result be a turnover and touchback before this stops happening. Carr was playing hero ball, and it’s easy to see why he fumbled the ball. He was trying to make a play and win the game — one that his team trailed by three points in.
It would be easier to understand this if the Raiders needed the touchdown to tie, but Carr got greedy and he paid the price for it in the end. All Oakland needed was a field goal to tie the game. Do not sully the good name of index cards around the world when Carr is the only person to blame for this.