CANTON, Ohio — The Baltimore Ravens are unsure of the new helmet rule after getting penalized three times for it in Thursday’s Hall of Fame game.
“I’ll wait to see the TV copies and see what they look like,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after a 17-16 win over the Bears. “So I really don’t know. If I knew, I would give you an opinion on it. I don’t know enough about the rule to understand it right now.”
Under the new rule, a player can draw a 15-yard penalty and potentially can be fined or ejected for lowering his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. Earlier this week, Eagles players expressed frustration over the rule after watching a presentation by NFL referees.
Ravens safety Bennett Jackson was among the players Thursday night who threw up their arms when flagged for this rule. He believes he didn’t lead with his head and hit with his shoulder.
Jackson called his tackle a “perfect” one.
“I feel like they’re trying to harp on it a lot more in preseason, so they’re going to throw flags even on times when it’s not necessarily head to head, just to make people aware of it,” Jackson said. “I spoke to the ref. He even said, ‘Hey, it’s preseason, we got to throw the flag.'”
It took 4 minutes, 29 seconds for the first flag to be thrown for illegal use of the helmet. Baltimore linebacker Patrick Onwuasor launched himself toward Bears running back Benny Cunningham to finish off a play and lowered his helmet.
In the third quarter, Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa dropped the crown of his helmet down to hit wide receiver Tanner Gentry. This converted a third down for Chicago.
“It’s really about a reaction,” Correa said. “It’s all up to the refs and what they call. At the end of the day, us as players, we’re really just trying to go out and play as hard and as fast as we can.”
Safety was the reason why the league started this rule. According to NFL research, nearly one out of every two helmet-to-helmet hits caused a concussion in 2017. That’s up from a ratio of one out of every three in 2015.
The Ravens hope the number of flags for the helmet rule will eventually decrease.
“In the regular season, I don’t think it’s going to be thrown as much,” Jackson said. “But who knows?”
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this report
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