New NFL helmet rule finds its first casualty

Somebody had to be the first, but he probably would have preferred that it be someone else.  Shamarko Thomas, safety for the Indianapolis Colts, was ejected last night during the team's season-opening game against the Seahawks for violating the NFL's new helmet law.  Adding insult to injury, the defense was penalized 15 yards.

With just under six minutes left in the game, Thomas lowered his head as he went to tackle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore.  In doing so, he made helmet-to-helmet contact with the player, which became a prohibited action under league rule changes established during the off-season.

Frank Reich, head coach for the  Colts, agreed with the ref's decision to boot Thomas from the game.  He said, "It was the appropriate call.  He should have been ejected. That should not be part of the game. That could have been avoided. Should have been avoided. The officials did the right thing." 

While he was the first to be ejected as a result of the rule change, he wasn't the first in the game to be penalized for the action.  Seahawks cornerback Akeem King took that honor when he lowered his head to initiate contact earlier in the game.  That also resulted in a 15-yard penalty, but no ejection. 

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the matchup, which the Colts won 19-17, "I thought it was interesting in the first game, we were talking the whole time with the officials about the rules and about the hits and the helmet shots and stuff like that and trying to make some sense of it.

"There was [sic] a couple of learning opportunities on this film in this game for everybody. They'll learn in New York, the officials will learn, the players and coaches will all learn as well...It's kind of a new era for us in ball. That was all right."

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