Williams fined $15K for second 'horse-collar' tackle of season
For the second time this season (and the third time in two years), Dallas Cowboys strong safety Roy Williams, whose persistent use of the so-called "horse-collar" tackle, has been fined by the league for using the illegal technique. The NFL banned the dangerous maneuver in 2005.
Williams was fined $15,000 on Friday for a hit that he made on Buffalo rookie tailback Marshawn Lynch in Monday night's victory over the Bills. Earlier this season, the league fined Williams $12,500 for a horse-collar tackle on tight end Desmond Clark in the Sept. 23 game against the Chicago Bears.
By fining Williams for his actions in the Monday game, the league unwittingly conceded that the officiating crew led by referee Peter Morelli erred in its call by imposing just a five-yard facemask penalty on the Dallas safety.
The play in question occurred with 9:51 remaining in the game. On a first-and-10 from the Dallas 48-yard line, Lynch gained two yards on a run around the left end before he was pulled down from behind by Williams as the two players reached the sideline.
The tackle appeared to be a textbook example of the banned horse-collar technique, which would have resulted in a 15-yard penalty. But after a brief consultation, the officials instead flagged Williams for an incidental facemark penalty, moving the ball to the Dallas 41-yard line. The series ended when Cowboys wide receiver Terence Newman intercepted a pass.
In reviewing video of the game, the NFL's officiating department determined that the play was a horse-collar tackle.
The NFL banned the horse-collar tackle in May 2005 by a 27-5 vote after a proposal to take it out of the game was tabled at the league's annual meetings two months earlier. The rule passed after the competition committee twice rewrote it.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones voted against the proposal.
The ban against the horse-collar technique is often referred to as the "Roy Williams Rule." Williams came under scrutiny during the 2004 season for repeated use of the horse-collar technique, in which a defender grabs an offensive player on the back of his shoulder pads and yanks him down.
In studying the tackle, the competition committee concluded that it had contributed to several lower extremity injuries in 2004. Some felt that Williams was responsible for four significant injuries that season.
Ironically, one of the players injured by a Williams horse-collar tackle was then-Philadelphia wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is now a teammate of the Dallas safety.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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