When Bengals defensive back Shawn Williams flattened Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, many assumed that the foul and ensuing ejection arose from application of the new rule against lowering the helmet and initiating contact against an opponent. But that’s not the case.
According to the league, the foul and the ejection both came from a finding of unnecessary roughness.
While it’s ultimately a distinction without a difference in this specific case, it’s an important to remember what is and isn’t a violation of the new helmet rule. Williams apparently initiated contacted not with his helmet but with his shoulder, even though helmet-to-helmet contact definitely happened. An argument also could be made that the helmet contact was inadvertent, since Williams didn’t strike Luck with the crown of the helmet.
Still, the fact that Luck was being tackled, the fact that Williams hit him hard enough in the head to snap it backward, the fact that Luck is a quarterback, and the fact that he missed all of 2017 may have been factors in the decision both to penalize and to eject.
The fact that a Bengal applied the hit also may have had something to do with it.