ARLINGTON, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott won’t soon forget his franchise-record-setting 13th rushing touchdown of his rookie season.
Neither will anybody else given how much it will be replayed in the future.
The Dallas Cowboys running back celebrated by jumping into one of the oversized Salvation Army red kettles in the end zone during the Cowboys’ 26-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quickly hiding from everybody before popping out.
After conferring, the officials threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, so Elliott couldn’t hide that much.
“I mean it’s just sitting there right in the end zone, you know. It’s the perfect celebration,” Elliot said after the game. “They’re one of our biggest partners so I had to show them a little bit of love.”
Elliott’s score broke Tony Dorsett’s team record for most touchdown runs by a rookie in Dallas history. The 2-yard run on third-and-goal gave the Cowboys a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.
If the Cowboys were upset, they didn’t show it. Management allowed the penalty to be shown on the center-hung digital board before the ensuing kickoff. They were made even happier after the Buccaneers’ next drive started at their 22 and the Dallas defense forced the Bucs into a three-and-out.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also seemed fine with the rookie rusher’s celebration.
“I think the Salvation Army should give him the highest award,” Jones said after the game. “My dream would be for the NFL to really fine me a lot of money and I’ll take them to the Supreme Court and we’ll get the Salvation Army more attention than anybody can get them. So let’s go.”
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant didn’t see an issue with the celebration, saying “Why not let it be legal? We’re just having fun. Let’s not make it the No Fun League.”
When asked if he would hop into the kettle again, Elliott said it was a one-time gesture.
“No, [Cowboys coach Jason Garrett] wasn’t happy about it with the penalty for special teams,” Elliott said. “Him or the special teams coach wasn’t happy, so I can’t keep making them mad.”
Garrett explained his reasoning for dampening the celebratory mood.
“Well, he shouldn’t have done it. I thought it was creative, but he shouldn’t have done it. You know that’s how the league is going to rule on those things,” Garrett said.
“You have to understand what’s legal and what’s not legal. You can jump into the stands in Green Bay but you can’t jump into a Salvation Army bucket in Dallas. You’ve got to be careful about snow angels. All of these different things that we do. So we have to be more mindful of that. I’ve got to coach that better.”
But Elliott added that he does plan for one more act of kindness.
“I’m going to match whatever they fine me and donate it to the Salvation Army,” Elliott said.