October 24, 2011
Sunday, we brought you the story of several Atlanta Falcons players accusing Detroit Lions defenders — specifically defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh(notes) and defensive tackle Cliff Avril(notes) — of taunting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan(notes) when Ryan suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of Atlanta's 23-16 win.
Avril defended himself via Twitter, and we included that in the original post. But nobody had heard from Suh about this subject, though he did speak to media after the game. Monday, Suh went out of his way to defend himself and his teammates from the accusations by Falcons players, led by receiver Roddy White(notes).
"I'm not even near their quarterback, so how am I going to trash-talk somebody that has a medical staff that's all around him?" Suh told the Detroit media on Monday. "That's their own problem. If you look at that play, I didn't cause his quarterback to come down. [Lawrence Jackson(notes)], who was closest man to him, and Corey [Williams] didn't cause the player to go down. Myself and Cliff [Avril] were standing next to each other.
"If you look at it, to me, it's karma. For all the bad stuff they've done in the past, their offensive lineman hurt their own quarterback. So I'll leave it at that."
But why would the Falcons say these things and be so detailed in their accusations if the accusations weren't true? "I don't know," he said. "Maybe that's because the media and certain outlets have continued to call me a dirty player but yet can't prove it."
Avril also made mention of the Falcons' own extracurricular activities coming back to bite them, but he wasn't very specific. Suh laid it all out, and insisted that he didn't need "Rodney" White's respect.
"There's many, many, many plays that I can go back to on film that I watched all week that their offensive line has done -- and that they've been coached to do, as far as I know," Suh said. "It's not anything that's not been said, it's not anything that's new. Those are things that they're taught to do.
"And I can go back -- there's like a 13-, 15-play clip reel that we have that shows everything they've done. That's not even counting our game. There's many plays that I can go back to in that particular game and say, 'What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to just let that happen? Or what?'"
Also on Monday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz tried to put the entire incident in context by saying that "it would be very out of character for someone to be saying something about an injured player. I mean if you really look at that play, he stepped on his own player [tackle Will Svitek(notes)] and that is what caused it. When he was down on the ground, we didn't have anybody near him.
"[Atlanta] is a team that prides themselves on playing hard, particularly on the offensive line. We are a team that prides ourselves on playing hard, particularly on the defensive line. When you have those kinds of battles, there is going to be things that happen during the game and there were a lot of things. It was chippy; let's put it that way. We didn't play well enough to win. I would be very surprised if that was the case.
"I can speak on my experience. The one play that happened close to our sideline when [Falcons FB Ovie] Mughelli hurt his knee. You see all of our guys… I mean [Louis] Delmas who actually made the hit immediately dropped to his knees to say a prayer for him. Every one of our players was immediately calling for their trainers to come in. I would be surprised if our guys felt any other way. I mean Mughelli looked like he was seriously injured. Matt Ryan missed a play."
Between the frequent penalty flags thrown in Suh's direction and Schwartz's own impulse control issues with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, the coach was asked if the team's tough-guy approach got in the way of actual football at times. "No, I don't think that there's any cause of concern for anything like that," he said. "I think football's something that you have to play with an attitude. You don't want to get penalties and you don't want to extend past the line. I think that the officials did a pretty good job of keeping this one in control. Like I said, that's a team that prides themselves on pushing the envelope on the offensive line. I mean, I think, anybody that's seen them play or has watched that game could see some of those things and you know, we're a team defensively that does the same thing.
"I don't think that had anything to do with the game. I mean it had nothing to do with us making a play in the game or not making a play in the game."
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