Suh’s reputation overshadowing ‘dominant’ play

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- With the Detroit Lions leading 30-16 with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter Sunday, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh ran a stunt with defensive end Willie Young. Young took an inside rush lane and two Chicago Bears offensive linemen went crashing in with him. That left Suh free around the end with a clear path to unsuspecting quarterback Jay Cutler.
Those who consider Suh the dirtiest player in the NFL might be surprised to learn that Suh didn't decapitate Cutler, nor did he dive at his knees. He smartly wrapped one big arm around him and swatted the ball loose with the other.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley scooped the ball up and rumbled four yards into the end zone for what proved to be the winning touchdown Sunday.
"He has been playing at a high level the whole season," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "I think another play that may fly below the radar was when they completed a third down pass but it was negated with a penalty. That was against Suh, with a hand to the face. They were trying everything to get him stopped and the very next play we intercepted.
"He's had a couple plays that don't show up on the scorecard with forced interceptions and stuff like that. That was another one."
It might be time to stop looking at Suh as dirty and start appreciating his dominance. He has been a disruptive force in all four games. Sunday he had two sacks, two tackles for loss and the forced fumble. He also had at least six pressures.
"Dominant," Fairley said when asked about Suh. "Suh's been dominant the whole year. I think we expect that the whole year from him. I think that's his mindset coming into this year. We sat down, he asked me what my goals were and I told him. He told me his and it kind of equaled out to the same. We feed off each other."
Suh has become as big a leader off the field as he has been on it, and there were many in the organization who would have never thought that possible. He is to the Lions defense what Miguel Cabrera is to the Detroit Tigers offense. He's the big bat in the middle that makes everybody around him more productive.
But Suh knows his critics won't stop.
"To be honest with you, this is just a great feeling that we're winning and we're finally getting that job done," he said. "I'm not so much worried about whether people see me dirty or if they see me as a great player. As long as we're winning, then I'm satisfied with that. That's most important.
"Granted, I'm not going to sit here and lie to you. I would love for it to be focused on my play, but I understand people have their agendas and people have things that they want to focus on. I can't really concern myself with that."
--CB Chris Houston did not finish the game Sunday. He injured his leg in the second half and sat out most of the fourth quarter.
"Chris was not able to finish and as an indication that's always a strong one (that he could miss some time)," Schwartz said. "It's a leg injury and we'll just sort of keep at that. We will see where he gets to this week. Hopefully he can get back but if he can't, it's next man up. That's how we do it in this league."
Schwartz said the injury appeared to be more "day-to-day, week-to-week" than long-term.
--CB Rashean Mathis left the game in the first quarter with what appeared at the time to be a concussion.
"He passed his initial concussion tests," Schwartz said. "He was never diagnosed with a concussion on the sideline, but during the game there was question whether he was concussed. Our people decided to err on the side of caution (and keep him out of the game)."
Mathis, Schwartz said, was in the facility Monday and worked out. He didn't exhibit any concussion symptoms and is expected to practice this week.
--RT Jason Fox (groin) missed his third straight game but has returned to practice.
--WR Kris Durham took a helmet to the small of the back and could miss some practice time this week.
--QB Matthew Stafford completed 23 passes for 242 yards Sunday. He is now the first quarterback in NFL history to complete at least 1,200 passes for more than 14,000 in his first 50 games. Stafford has 1,214 completions for 14,069 yards in 49 games.