Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys RB, first offensive player to be penalized for lowering head

Dallas Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott became the first offensive player to be penalized for the NFL’s new use of helmet rule Sunday.

The rule, approved last spring, prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with an opponent. League officials said at the time that it would apply to all players at every position, and noted specifically that running backs who lowered their heads to bowl over defenders would be called. But through the first 13 weeks of the season, only defensive or special teams players had been penalized.

The play occurred with 11 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the Cowboys’ game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Elliott lowered his head and hit Eagles safety Corey Graham at the end of a 12-yard reception.

NFL owners approved the rule because internal research showed that contact between players with lowered helmets, and linear backs, increased the possibility of head and neck injuries. After the penalty, Elliott was evaluated by medical personnel and missed five snaps before returning.

Through the first 13 weeks of the season, there were a total of 10 flags for use of helmet.

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