GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Detroit Lions are having a hard time shedding their label of being a dirty team.
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh appeared to step twice on the already gimpy leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — the first one looked accidental, but the second one, moments after the first, looked like Suh knew what he was doing.
Suh planted his leg on Rodgers' left leg, shifted his weight and stepped on it, which angered Rodgers, who pushed Suh out of the way. There was no flag on the play, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported on NBC that the league office will investigate the incident.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy admitted he did not see the play but heard from people with the team who did and relayed the message to him that they thought Suh's step was dirty.
"I didn’t see it live, I didn’t see it on the Jumbotron, but from what I’m told, I’m told it was ridiculous," a clearly agitated McCarthy said. "There’s no place for that, so that’s where I’m at with it. I don’t understand it, frankly."
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, who has made it a point of emphasis to clean up the Lions' locker room in his first season running the team, said after the game he didn't think Suh's play was dirty.
Rodgers would not directly lay blame, but he clearly was annoyed when asked about it postgame.
"I don’t know, we’ll look at the film," he said. "He’ll probably say it was an accident, that he was getting blocked into [Rodgers]. That’s what [head referee] Walt Anderson said."
After Suh stepped on him the second time, Rodgers shoved Suh and had a hard time hiding his anger.
Asked about that shove, Rodgers said: "Well, he was running off the field. I was talking to Walt, actually. My calf and my ankle was getting stepped on. We’ll see what happens."
Rodgers confirmed that the spot Suh stepped on was close to where the original injury ocurred.
"Aaron was obviously not too happy about it," Packers center Corey Linsley said. "None of us really saw it happen; I didn't anyway. But we knew he was not happy about it."
Rodgers left the game in the late second quarter after aggravating a calf injury that he first suffered in Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He returned to the game against the Lions and, three possessions later, turned a 14-14 tie game into a 28-14 Packers lead in a game Green Bay went on to win for the NFC North title.
The Lions came into this game without the services of center Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for this contest for stepping on Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson last week.
Asked if the Packers' coaches prepped the team for the Lions, imploring them not to retaliate against players such as Suh who might try to play through the whistle — and perhaps well past it — Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga said: "Yeah, I mean, we play these guys twice a year. We know the style of defense they play. It's just going out there and playing and playing smart."
Added Linsley: "There's different styles for different teams, and we just wanted to be ready for anything that might happen today. After [Suh's step] we just talked about taking care of ourselves, to be ready in case anything else happened. Just be aware of what they are doing out there, protect ourselves."
Suh has been called a dirty player almost since the day he entered the NFL, earning several 15-yard penalties and fines from the league office for ilegal hits. He was suspended two games in the 2011 season for stomping on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith in a Thanksgiving game.
And now we have yet another incident that reflect poorly on him as a player, if you ask the Packers.
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