Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been fined by the NFL for the second time in four weeks.
Elliott was fined $26,739 for lowering his helmet to initiate contact against Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Corey Graham in last Sunday’s 29-23 overtime victory.
He was being tackled and was already falling toward the ground when he came into contact with Graham. Both were going low.
Elliott is appealing the fine, according to sources.
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The Cowboys and his agents believe the play doesn’t cover what the rule was intended for.
Elliott is the first offensive player to be flagged for that penalty this season.
According to the helmet rule, players are prohibited from lowering their helmet to initiate contact with an opponent. It includes running backs who lower their heads and use their helmet as a weapon.
Elliott believes his situation was different as he was not running, but lunging forward while being tackled after a 12-yard reception along the sidelines.
“We’re just making some calls here that are tough, but we’re doing it for protection and safety,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game. “That’s the biggest question being asked: How do you play?
“I don’t want Zeke to stop punishing them on the end of his runs. Upon further review, they both tucked their heads. Zeke is a punishing runner. That’s what we want in the NFL. That is a physical aspect of football that we want to give our fans. I’ll certainly do everything I can to not make those kinds of things penalties.”
Elliott briefly lost feeling in his arm. He had to go to the sideline and missed five plays with a stinger.
“I mean when you’re on that sideline, I’ve got to protect myself,” Elliott said after the game. “And if a guy’s going low, I’ve got to go low, too. The rule is meant for the betterment of the game. The rule is for our safety, and if there was illegal helmet-to-helmet contact on there, that’s something I need to go look at and work on. That’s not OK. It’s just a tough play.”
Elliott was also fined $13,369 for unsportsmanlike conduct for donating $21 into the Salvation Army kettle after a touchdown against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day.