DALLAS Teams

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
1hTodd Archer

Dez: Zeke's return will deliver 'extreme boost'

The Cowboys were upbeat Sunday night at the prospect of having Ezekiel Elliott in the fold after the running back's suspension expires Monday morning. "Just seeing him back will make us play that much harder," Dez Bryant said.

play
The Cowboys are alive (0:43)
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
3hPaul Gutierrez

Index card 4th-down ruling draws Raiders' ire

After referee Gene Steratore used a folded-up index card to measure for a key first down that ultimately went in favor of the Cowboys on Sunday night, the Raiders contended that there was "still space between the ball and the stick."

play
Jones excited to have Zeke back (0:20)

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Jerry Jones with what might be the line of the night after the Cowboys were granted a first down after Gene Steratore used a folded piece of paper to affirm a ruling. "Well, I love any game that will allow you to just stick it in the pile and then come back and measure it with a piece of cigarette paper."

play
Garrett, Del Rio weigh in on index card as a unit of measure (0:53)

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Jerry Jones will be happy to se Ezekiel Elliott Monday. The running back will be allowed back at The Star for the 10 a.m. sick call now that his six-game suspension is over. "We need him back and it's good to have him back," Jones said. "I think Zeke is going to energize our whole team."

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Dez Bryant was on the wrong end of a Gene Steratore ruling in the 2014 playoffs against Green Bay. He was on the right end Sunday when Steratore used a piece of paper to rule Dak Prescott concerted a first down in the fourth quarter. "Game if inches," Bryant said. "I never seen it before but it shows it's a game of inches."

play
Ref uses paper to measure first down (0:33)

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

To say the Cowboys are excited about the return of Ezekiel Elliott is an understatement. Jason Garrett was a bit more measured but he said he's been told Elliott has been working out. Players have been in touch with Elliott via text message in his absence. At 8-6, the Cowboys still need to win out and have some help but Elliott's return will be a boost.

play
Cowboys find a way past the Raiders (1:31)
play
Bryant's leaping grab sets up go-ahead FG (0:23)
play
Carr's fumble into end zone seals game for Cowboys (0:47)

Kevin Seifert NFL Nation 

The quirkiest NFL Sunday in a long time included all of the league's greatest hits. The AFCs' No. 1 seed might have been decided when the Steelers' go-ahead touchdown was invalidated by the infuriating catch rule. Later, referee Gene Steratore granted the Cowboys a first down on a measurement so close that he used a folded index card to gauge it. And then, the Raiders lost possession on their final drive when quarterback Derek Carr's fumble dribbled out of the end zone for a touchback. All that was missing on this day was an illegal bat.

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Gene Steratore takes (2014 playoffs) and he gives. Steratore's two fourth quarter rulings helped keep the Cowboys playoff chances alive with their 20-17 win against the Oakland Raiders. It was as gutsy as it was ugly for the Cowboys but they welcome back Ezekiel Elliott from his suspension on Monday with a chance. And that's all they wanted when he left six games ago.

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cowboys made the first down by less than a link of the chain. Wow. The season lives.

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Gutsy call by Jason Garrett to go for it there. That's not his normal way. It looked like Dak Prescott made it with the quarterback sneak but who knows?

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Gene Steratore, replay and the Cowboys do not go together. But I think they will move this back a half yard forcing the Cowboys to punt with 5:09 to play.

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cowboys open with a minus-4 yard reverse by Dez Bryant and a holding penalty on Byron Bell. It's now second and 24. Not a lot they can do here.

Todd Archer ESPN Staff Writer 

Can the offense answer again with the score 17-17? They have owned the fourth quarter the last two games with 41 points vs. Washington and at New York. Dez Bryant had a 19-yard grab on the last drive. Perhaps that will get him going.

play
Prescott keeps it himself for TD (0:31)