This year, Ezekiel Elliott puts $21 -- not himself -- in Salvation Army kettle

DALLAS -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott made a $21 donation to the Salvation Army kettle in the end zone after his 16-yard touchdown run on the team's first drive of their 31-23 Thursday win against the Washington Redskins.

Two years ago, Elliott jumped into the kettle after a Thanksgiving touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That jump earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, although the NFL spared him a fine. Elliott, in turn, pledged $21,000 and encouraged fans to make $21 donations to match his uniform number. The Salvation Army said at the time that it led to a huge influx of donations in the immediate aftermath of the game.

This time, Elliott -- handed the cash in the end zone by a Cowboys staffer -- was not flagged, with the NFL having since relaxed rules on touchdown celebrations.

"I was just thinking about what I could do today that would be a little bit different," Elliott said after the game. "Two years ago when I jumped in there, there were a bunch of $21 donations to the Salvation Army. Hopefully that first $21 that I put in there today triggers a lot of donations for them."

Then, in the fourth quarter, Elliott made another donation, picking up Dak Prescott and dropping him into the kettle after the quarterback's touchdown run. This time, the play drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.

"I think he just deserved to get in there, you know what I mean?" Elliott said. "I just had to throw him over there. He got in himself."

"We need to stay away from the kettle, so we'll work on that," coach Jason Garrett said. "You want them to love playing football. What you don't want is them getting a 15-yard penalty out of that. We'll learn from that experience and move forward. That might be a rule the NFL can look at as well."