Amongst the Detroit Lions surfeit of mental mistakes during Thursday’s afternoon loss to the Green Bay Packers, there was one costly falter that stands out.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was flagged for a personal foul after he appeared to stomp on Green Bay Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm in the process of separating himself from Sietrich-Smith and the turf.
The penalty was costly because it directly followed a failed third-and-goal attempt from the Packers. It gave Aaron Rodgers and Co. a fresh set of downs, which they soon turned into seven points.
Perhaps even more damaging than extending the Packers drive was the fact that Suh was ejected from the game due to the penalty, eliminating one of Detroit's most valuable defensive players while the game was still within reach.
The ejection, in front of a nationally televised audience, may further the belief that Suh is a dirty player -- although Suh doesn’t believe the act was against the rules as he stated following the game he was merely attempting to seperate himself from Dietrich-Smith.
“I was on top of a guy being pulled down and trying to get up off the ground,” said Suh. “Why you see me pushing his helmet down? Because I’m trying to remove myself from the situation and as I’m getting up, I’m getting pushed, so I’m getting myself on balance and getting out of the situation. Which, with that, a lot of people are going to interpret it as, or create their own storylines for seeing what they want to interpret it (as), but I know what I did and the man upstairs knows what I did.”
Regardless of what Suh’s intention was, he did express his regret for putting himself in a situation where the officials had an opportunity to misinterpret the situation. It could also lead to a suspension; given the team's in the middle of a post-season run, Suh's act could have major ramifications on the team.
The penalty and ejection were key factors in the Lions loss. The penalty and ejection were also both a product of a mistake that did not need to happen.
Said Rashied Davis: “Until we start doing what we need to do and trying to handle the penalties and controlling tempers and (crap) like that…we need to make sure we quit beating ourselves.”
Corey Williams, the starting defensive tackle who lines up next to Suh, admitted he hadn’t yet had a chance to see the play but players on the defensive line are going to be the victim of “cheap shots” and it’s important to maintain composure and not hurt the team.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet,” said Williams. “I’m sure he’s going to address it tomorrow but, like I said, he’s got to learn how to control his temper…. I’m going to pull him to the side and we’ll talk about it. Me being a veteran, I feel like that’s one of my jobs, to get the young guys on the right road.”
Unlike Williams, Suh claimed he had watched a replay of the incident and maintains he had no intent to injure and did not intentionally kick or stomp his opponent.
“I’m on one leg and I’m trying to get out of myself at the same time being pushed by his teammates,” said Suh. “So where, how am I supposed to do anything else?
"If I see a guy stepping on somebody, I feel like they’re going to lean into it and forcefully stand over the person or step on that person. I’m going the opposite direction to where he’s at, so that’s where I leave it.”
The Lions and Suh would both like to put this event in the past but it is possible that Suh faces additional league discipline with the potential for a suspension.
Suh didn’t want to speculate on the potential of further disciplinary action but former vice president of officiating in the NFL and current rules analyst at Fox Sports Mike Pereira wasn’t afraid to give his opinion.
On Twitter, a fan asked Pereira if he thought Suh would be hearing from the league.
“Multiple game suspension coming,” tweeted Pereira. “Stomping on a guy is way over the line. He's not a dirty player, he's a filthy player.”
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