Through two weeks, only two lowering-the-helmet penalties

Getty Images

Those changes the NFL didn’t make to a controversial new rule really have done the trick.

After averaging 1.5 penalties per game for lowering the helmet and initiating contact with an opponent through two weeks of the preseason the NFL has seen two penalties in the regular season. Through two full weeks of football.

According to a league spokesman, there has been only two total penalties under the new prohibition regarding helmet use in 32 total games. That’s an average of 0.0625 per game.

So why the stunning drop? One explanation would be that the players immediately have adjusted their playing styles to the new rule. Another explanation would be that the conference call conducted on the Wednesday after Week Two, the one that officially resulted in no changes to the rule, resulted in just enough changes to the rule, with inadvertent or incidental helmet contact not a foul, with “bracing” used more aggressively to excuse helmet contact, and with (as former NFL referee Terry McAulay explained it on Tuesday’s #PFTPM podcast) a focus on defensive players having the time and space necessary to choose to use the helmet as a weapon.

Here’s where we focus on giving you the pitch to check out #PFTPM, which includes conversations with McAulay and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller.