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Ref uses index card to confirm key first down for Cowboys

Sometimes, football is a game of inches. The Oakland Raiders found out the hard way Sunday night, as a referee used a folded-up index card to verify a key first down for the Dallas Cowboys.

>> Read more trending news

With the game tied and five minutes remaining in regulation, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott ran a keeper up the middle on fourth-and-1 from the Cowboys’ 39-yard line, ESPN reported.

The ball was spotted just short of the 40-yard line and the referees called for a measurement. Referee Gene Steratore folded up an index card to see if there was space between the nose of the football and the pole. There appeared to be space, but Steratore signaled a first down for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys took advantage and kicked what proved to be the game-winning field goal with 1;47 to play.

Oakland coach Jack Del Rio was upset with the controversial call, ESPN reported.

“I don't want to get fined, OK?” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “I'm not happy with the way things were done in a lot of different situations throughout the night. They did the best that they could. I had a different viewpoint. I saw air. It was pretty obvious. Again, they do the best they can with a tough job.”

“Yeah, I don't know that I've ever seen that one,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “It seems like that's the method they use to decide. One of my concerns was that it looked like the stick was kind of on an angle. We thought that was working against us but eventually they straightened it out, brought the card out and we made it by the thickness of the card. And it was certainly a big play.”

In a conversation with a pool reporter, Steratore said did not use the index card to make the final decision.

“The final decision was made visually. The card was used nothing more than a reaffirmation of what was visually done.” he said. “My decision was visually done based on the look from the pole."

How did it reaffirm?

"That was already finished," Steratore said. "The ball was touching the pole. I put the card in there and as soon as it touched, it was nothing more than a reaffirmation. The decision was made based on my visual from the top looking down and the ball touching the front of the pole."

The Raiders still had a chance to win in the final minute with the ball at the Cowboys' 8-yard line. But Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, diving for a game-winning touchdown at the right pylon, lost the ball and it rolled out of the end zone for a touchback, giving Dallas possession with 31 seconds to play.

Sportscaster James Brown claims hack after porn video link tweeted from account

Longtime CBS sportscaster James Brown said his Twitter account was hacked after a link to a pornographic video was tweeted from his account late Sunday, The New York Daily News reported.

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The tweet, which contained explicit language as well as the link, remained online for 15 minutes before it was deleted, the Daily News reported.

Brown, 66, who hosts CBS' “The NFL Today,” pregame show, went to Twitter and said his account had been compromised.

"Obviously my account has been hacked!!!" Brown tweeted.

Brown has made no further comments, the Daily News reported.

Report: Marvin Lewis stepping down as Cincinnati Bengals' coach

Marvin Lewis, the longest tenured head coach in Cincinnati Bengals history, has decided to step down after the 2017 season, sources told ESPN Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that multiple members of the organization, including coaches, learned of Lewis’ decision as they boarded a bus in Minneapolis for the Bengals’ game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Bengals currently have no comment. Sources close to Lewis told the Enquirer he remains interested in coaching in 2018 and does not plan to retire. 

Lewis, 59, became the Bengals’ coach in 2003, Heading into Sunday’s game, he has a career coaching record of 123-111-3 in 15 seasons, plus an 0-7 record in the playoffs.

Lewis and the Bengals came to terms on a contract extension in the offseason, leaving him without a contract beyond the 2017 season for the first time since 2010, the Enquirer reported.

All of the Bengals' assistant coaches also have expiring contracts, which means the team could begin moving forward with head coaching interviews for defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, or look beyond the franchise, the Enquirer reported.

Lewis came to the Bengals as the ninth coach in franchise history after serving as defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins (2002) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-2001). Before that, he spent four seasons as linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Panthers' Thomas Davis donates $15K for high school state championship rings

Carolina Panthers defensive linebacker Thomas Davis has made a huge donation to help the Harding University High School football team get its players and coaches championship rings.

>> Read more trending news

Davis confirmed he donated $15,000 to the team in a tweet to WSOC-TV anchor John Paul.

The football team finished its 14-1 season with a 30-22 win over Scotland County in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A State Championship game in Winston-Salem. It’s the first state championship for the team since 1953.

Head football coach Sam Greiner was on the radio Friday morning when Davis called in and said he would help. The football program was trying to figure out ways to purchase rings for its players who couldn't afford them.

The rings cost about $400 apiece, so the school was trying to raise about $20,000. A GoFundMe page was set up to help the team buy rings, which had raised nearly $7,000 by Friday morning.

When Greiner accepted the head coach position two years ago, the football program was one of the worst in the state -- winning just one game in both 2014 and 2015. The players didn't have uniforms until the coach’s church bought them. They still practice on a beat-up baseball field and have to dress behind the stands.

"If someone wrote a movie script about everything that's happened, they would think it's a fairy tale,” Greiner said. “They wouldn't think it's real life.”

WSOC-TV asked what expenses Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cover and was told it provides for game officials, security and coaching stipends.

Everything else is up to the school, families or a booster club.

Harding doesn't have a booster club, and a majority of the students’ families don't have the money.

"We have kids on our rosters that don't really have homes,” Greiner said. “They really don't know what they're going to eat (from) day to day.”

Greiner and his church created a family before building a state championship-caliber team. The church provides meals before games and Greiner let his quarterback, Braheam Murphy, who was homeless, live with him.

"I have two daughters because I think the good Lord knew I had enough sons, coaching football," Greiner said.

Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster takes nearly 200 kids to the movies

Some children in Pittsburgh got to go to the movies with a Steelers star.

>> Watch the news report here

JuJu Smith-Schuster held an advance screening of "Jumanji" with nearly 200 children from the United Way, Bike Pittsburgh and Beyond Type 1.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

"I didn't think there would be this many people here today. It's a great crowd," Smith-Schuster said. "I'm seeing more and more people wearing my jersey and that's exciting."

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The children got the chance to meet Smith-Schuster and then watch the movie with him, with free popcorn and drinks.

WATCH: Seahawks' Quinton Jefferson tries to climb into stands after fans throw concessions

After being ejected in Sundays 30-24 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson jogged toward the tunnel leading to the visiting locker room. 

>> WATCH: Injured Ryan Shazier celebrates Steelers' AFC North win from hospital

Then Jefferson abruptly stopped and took off his helmet after it appeared a drink was thrown at him by a fan in the stands. 

Jefferson moved toward the stands and began yelling when more fans threw concessions at him. 

>> Click here to watch

Seahawks staffers held Jefferson back as he tried to climb into the stands before he ultimately walked away into the locker room. 

>> Read more trending news 

Asked about Jefferson after the game, head coach Pete Carroll said, "I don't even know what happened. ... He just kind of lost it." 

Carroll went on to say, "It's really unfortunate how it ended. We had a chance to get the ball back. We have to be more poised than that." 

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson also was ejected late in the fourth quarter after officials said he threw a punch at a member of the Jaguars. 

The (8-5) Seahawks return home to CenturyLink Field next Sunday to face the NFC West-leading (9-4) Los Angeles Rams. 

WATCH: Injured Ryan Shazier celebrates Steelers' AFC North win from hospital

The Pittsburgh Steelers' Ryan Shazier has been hospitalized for nearly a week after a hit left him with a spine injury in a Monday night game against the Bengals.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Steelers' Ryan Shazier strapped to board, taken to hospital after scary hit

The team and fans have rallied around the young star linebacker, but other than a tweet and social media comments from family members, he hasn't made any public comments since he was carted off the field in Cincinnati.

That changed Sunday night.

>> Read more trending news

After the Steelers clinched an AFC North title in a thrilling 39-38 victory over the rival Baltimore Ravens, Shazier FaceTimed with his teammates congratulating them on the victory. That moment was caught on social media.

>> See the post here

Teammates said Shazier has been in good spirits despite the injury, and honored him in a number of ways before and during the game.

It looks like he was in even better spirits after it.

Concussion expert irate when Texans’ QB returns after hard hit

Hard hits are not unusual in the NFL, but the one Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage took Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers was particularly scary. When Savage returned to the game moments later, it drew an angry response from the founding CEO of Concussion Legacy Foundation on Twitter.

>> Read more trending news

Savage was hit by 49ers defensive end Elvis Dumervil as he threw an incomplete pass on third down, ESPN reported. The quarterback had trouble getting up and his hands were shaking.

After being evaluated by the Texans’ medical staff, Savage returned to the game three minutes later and threw two incomplete passes before being replaced by T.J. Yates with two minutes left in the half.

Chris Nowinski, a former professional wrestler with the WWE and author of “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis,” tweeted that he was “disgusted” by Savage’s return to action.

“I would not let my worst enemy go through the 2017 #NFL sideline concussion protocol,” tweeted Nowinski, who is co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

After taking the hit, Savage spoke with the Texans’ medical staff, ESPN reported. Before the Texans' next offensive series, a team official held Savage's jersey and arm as he tried to return to the field. Savage argued with the team official; after coming off the field a second time, Savage was escorted to the locker room by the team's trainer.

The Texans ruled Savage out with a concussion, ESPN reported.

Let it snow: Bills players, fans brave wintry conditions in Buffalo

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White did his best to stay warm before Sunday’s game in western New York. 

>> Read more trending news

It wasn’t working.

The Bills were hosting the Indianapolis Colts at New Era Field, and players, coaches and fans were exposed to a strong snowstorm.

During warm-ups Sunday, White did his best to avoid becoming frozen. He danced and moved to stay warm. As a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, it is unlikely that White has ever seen conditions like this: temperatures below 30 degrees when the game began at 1 p.m., winds out of the west at 18 mph, a wind chill that made the temperature feel like 16 degrees, and visibility of less than a third of a mile.

The players weren’t the only ones cold. Fans braved the chilly weather to cheer for the Bills.

And you can’t say the fans in Buffalo don’t have a sense of humor.

Impact of Ryan Shazier's injury felt at Ohio State

As Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier begins recovery from a spinal injury suffered in Cincinnati on Monday night, the former Ohio State University football star is in the thoughts and prayers of players at his alma mater. 

>> Read more trending news

Most of the current Buckeyes who met with reporters Friday night had a similar reaction when asked about Shazier, who had spinal stabilization surgery Thursday

“It’s scary, but that’s the game of football that we play,” OSU receiver Parris Campbell said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Injuries are prone to happen at some time, but that’s just something you’ve got to pray about. It’s scary to watch but you can’t prevent something like that from happening.” 

Fellow receiver Terry McLaurin added: 

“It doesn’t make me not want to play. You’ve got to be conscientious as best as you can. But that can happen to anybody. Everybody knows what they’re signing up for.” 

>> Steelers’ Ryan Shazier has spinal surgery

Offensive lineman Jamarco Jones expressed similar sentiments. 

“I mean, yeah, like I said it’s a part of the game,” Jones said. "I wouldn’t really say it scares me too much. I’ve been playing football all my life. I’ve seen some pretty bad injuries in football. 

“It sucks but I think it’s harder more for the parents and the family than us. I think football players understand the risks we’re taking. It’s more other people outside the locker room who may not necessarily understand why we do this,” Jones said.

“I don’t think too many football players would say watching an injury would deter them really because we know what we’re getting into.” 

Ohio State returned to practice Friday to begin preparations for playing USC in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29. 

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