(Reuters) - It took less than one quarter of opening Sunday for the National Football League’s new “use of helmet” rule to result in a player ejection.
Cincinnati Bengals safety Shawn Williams was the man banished for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Williams lowered his head and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Luck, who was diving for a first down while being tackled from behind by another player during the first quarter.
Under the new rule, designed in the hope of minimizing head and spinal injuries, officials have the discretion to eject a player for such a hit.
The rule states that a foul occurs if a “player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
Luck did not appear to be injured in the collision and did not sound upset with Williams.
“I think it looked worse than it felt,” Luck said.
“I didn’t think it was much of a deal. It’s part of this game and I’ll keep working on that part of my game and when to take those chances and when not to.”
The Bengals overcame the loss of Williams to beat the Colts 34-23.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis / Ian Ransom