Ezekiel Elliott drew a lot of laughs. He drew attention to the Salvation Army. And he also drew a 15-yard penalty.
“Well, he shouldn’t have done it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought it was creative, but he shouldn’t have done it. That’s how the league is going to rule on those things. You have to understand what’s legal and what’s not legal. You can jump into the stands in Green Bay, but you can’t jump into a Salvation Army bucket in Dallas. You’ve got to be careful about snow angels. All of those different things that we do. So we have to be more mindful of that. I’ve got to coach that better.”
Elliott celebrated a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter with a leap into one of the large Salvation Army red kettles that sits beyond the end zone. He crouched down before coming up slowly, pretending to play hide-and-seek.
“That bucket’s just sitting right there by the end zone,” Elliott said. “It’s only right someone jumps in it.”
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He discussed the idea with teammates before the game, wondering aloud whether officials would penalize him.
The Cowboys kicked off from the 20-yard line, but the Bucs returned the ball only to the 22-yard line, 3 yards short of where they would have started with a touchback.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who wears a Salvation Army pin on his lapel, couldn’t contain his excitement at the publicity Elliott’s stunt generated.
“There’s no question that was the divine touch from up above,” Jones said. “They didn’t gain anything from it. They got the ball back on the 20, 80 yards away after being docked for that. I know that more people are aware of what the Salvation Army was when Zeke jumped in there than maybe any other way we could do it. My dream would be for the NFL to really fine me a lot of money, and I’ll take them to the Supreme Court, and we’ll get the Salvation Army more attention than anybody can get them. So let’s go.”
Whatever the NFL fines him, Elliott said he will provide a donation of equal value to the Salvation Army.
“I’m going to match whatever they fine me in a donation to the Salvation Army. It’s whatever,” Elliott said.