Officials use new personal foul rule to eject a Bengals player on obvious dirty hit
Shawn Williams was tossed from the Bengals-Colts game for hitting Andrew Luck with his helmet
It did not take long for the NFL officials to get busy utilizing a new offseason rule that allows them to eject a player for a personal foul. Within 30 minutes of Sunday's action starting, Cincy safety Shawn Williams player was tossed out of the Bengals-Colts game for an egregious shot to Andrew Luck's head.
Luck was scrambling for a first down on the Bengals' side of the field and was being taken down by defensive lineman Michael Johnson. He'd clearly been tackled and had a knee down when Williams came flying in, leading with his helmet and then turning his shoulder to launch into Luck's head.
Unsurprisingly, flags flew quickly on that play, which was an egregious hit by Williams, both late and directly to Luck's head. This play clearly fell under the purview of the NFL's offseason rule change to Section 15, Article 2-2:
Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field.
The NFL on CBS broadcast did a great job pointing out the new rule live as it happened.
Within minutes of the hit, the officials hopped on the mic and announced that Williams had been ejected. As noted by NFL on CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore, it was "definitely an unnecessary roughness foul" and that it was possible the officials working in the command center in New York hopped on and decided to enforce the ejection.
"I see the officials conferencing and maybe they made that decision on the field to eject," Steratore noted. "But if we have a foul like that of unnecessary roughness, New York can come in from the command center and push that to an ejectable offense."
According to Paul Dehner, Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, New York did get involved.
Interestingly, this ejection was not for leading with the helmet or violation of the helmet rule: the decision to eject Williams was for a standard unnecessary roughness penalty. The rule now allows the league to toss anyone for situations like this.
It was pretty obvious from the second Williams hit Luck that he needed to be ejected.
It was an easy decision and a smart decision by both the league and the refs who were on the field at the time. No one in their right mind is going to criticize the NFL for ejecting someone engaging in that kind of unnecessarily violent behavior.
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