NFL 2014 Week 17: Troubles of a Bully Named Suh
The National Football League playoff field is finally set. More than many NFL seasons, this one had many games that decided playoff spots. One was an elimination game: the Carolina Panthers finally won the woeful NFC Southern Division over the Atlanta Falcons, a result that probably means the end to the tenure of Coach Mike Smith. The Panthers became not only the second team with a losing record to make the postseason (Seattle in 2010 was the first) but the first to be six games under .500 with five to play. Going from 3-8-1 to 7-8-1 saved Carolina’s season. Now the team will even host a playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. Even more amazingly, the Cardinals are not strong favorites to win despite that team’s much better record. While the Panthers came through at season’s end, the Cards, forced to start their third-string quarterback, lost their lead in the NFC West to Seattle along with several games.
Only one other team was eliminated from the playoffs on this last week of the season. The San Diego Chargers lost a surprisingly one-sided game to the Kansas City Chiefs, thus costing themselves the last wildcard spot in the AFC. The Baltimore Ravens snapped up the slot and will face the Pittsburgh Steelers, their rival since their days as the original Cleveland Browns (the team moved to Charm City in 1996 and the League created an expansion Browns team that started play in 1999). The Steelers won the AFC North crown by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, who will play the Indianapolis Colts in the other AFC wildcard game next weekend.
In addition to the Panthers-Cardinals matchup, the other NFC contest next week is scheduled for Dallas. Until Sunday afternoon it remained unclear who the Cowboys would meet in that game. Everything hinged on the Green Bay-Detroit game. The victor would be champions of the NFC North and the loser went to Big D. The Packers won the game and the week off before their first playoff game. The Lions not only lost the game but saw yet another sign of bone-headed bullying from one of their best players.
Ndamukong Suh was the Lions’ first-round draft choice in 2010. A defensive tackle at Nebraska, he won a number of awards and was even a Heisman Trophy finalist his senior season. Despite standing 6’4″ and weighing north of 300 pounds, he has surprising speed (he was not only a football star in high school but a track one as well). He has not disappointed as a pro, making the Pro Bowl all but one of his five seasons in the League to date. He plays with the necessary aggression for his position. Unfortunately for the Lions, that aggressiveness is also his gigantic Achilles heel. Criticized by many other players, the media and many fans (some of them Lions fans) for his sometimes dirty style of play, Suh has run up another impressive stat: In his first five seasons the NFL has fined him a total of $420,669 by the NFL for 7 player-safety violations. In other words, he’s a sometimes-great player and a dirty one as well.
He showed this tendency late in the Green Bay game. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has an injured left calf. On one play, Rodger laid on the ground after a pass. Suh, backed up by his blocker, stepped on Rodgers. That step looked accidental; the one that followed, when he stepped backwards directly onto Rodgers’ left calf, did not. Known so well by his reputation, Suh was slapped on Monday with one-game suspension. That would mean he has to sit out the Lions playoff tilt with the Cowboys next Sunday. Although he announced he would appeal the punishment, Suh cannot reject another honor. He is this page’s final regular season winner of the NFL WOW (Weasel of the Week). Someone remind him not to stomp it.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Senior Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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