It is a subject of many discussions these days. On Friday night when the Detroit Lions played the Cincinnati Bengals, Ndamukong Suh drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct when he drove quarterback Andy Dalton to the ground. Some believe it was a dirt play by a dirty player. I completely disagree.
When Suh came into the league just one year ago, his first real sack was not a good one. In the 3rd preseason game against the Browns, he got a hold of Jake Delhomme by the face mask, then once he got a hold of the quarterback, he whipped him to the ground roughly. He was flagged and fined. It was the beginning of a reputation that might stick with him undeservedly.
First off, I do not believe the foul was quite as dirty as people make it out to be. If you look at the video, Suh reached out for the quarterback and got a hold of the face mask. Definitely worth a flag, but not a dirty play. I see QBs grabbed by the face mask all the time. I see other players face masked every game. It is not dirty, it is just a case of the hand getting a hold of the wrong part of the player. So once Suh found himself holding the face mask of the quarterback, what was he expected to do? Imagine the criticizing he would get if he was to let him go and then Delhomme threw the ball for a first down or touchdown. Everyone would say he was stupid for not finishing the play. If he is going to get a flag anyway, you finish the tackle rather than let the guy go. So in all honesty, once Suh had already grabbed Delhomme's face mask, he had no other choice but to finish the play and make sure the quarterback went down.
Now considering the fact that Suh absolutely had to finish the play, ask yourself what he should have done. In this position, Suh had four choices that I can figure.... should Suh have...
A) Gently picked up Delhomme, put him in the cradled position and gently laid him on his back on the turf? .... As entertaining as that might have been to see, he still would have gotten flagged and he would have been humiliating Delhomme in a much worse manner.
B) Let the quarterback go? .... Absolutely not! Once a player gets a hold of the ball carrier, he is to NEVER let him go until the play is dead. If he let the QB go and then Delhomme was to throw a long ball for a touchdown, Suh would have been ridiculed for that.
C) Should he have wrapped his arms around Delhomme, then drove him to the turf underneath him? .... Imagine the chance of Delhomme getting hurt if Suh drove all of his weight on top of him as he nailed him to the turf.
No! The simple fact is, once Suh had already gotten the flag for a face mask, and already had the quarterback in his grasp, he should have done exactly what he did. Thrown the quarterback to the ground. It may look bad to many, but any of the other choices would have been worse.
Suh did not try to throw Delhomme down by the head. He let go of the face mask then grabbed lower, going for the shoulder pads to throw him down, but did not get a good hold of him. He did not hit him real late. He did not go for a hit on the head or the knees. He did not punch him and he never picked him up in the air and body slammed him. Suh did not make a dirty play. He simply finished a play in which he got a hold of the wrong part of the quarterback. If he was truly being a dirty player, he would not have let go of the face mask, but would have whipped Delhomme to the ground by that face mask. He didn't do that!
Since that play, Suh has been flagged and fined but never committed a real foul.
The Cutler Incident: Against Chicago, Jay Cutler was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled down the right sideline. Ndamukong Suh, being the great player he is, did not give up on the play. Instead, he chased Cutler down from behind. Running up behind him, he reached out and knocked the quarterback to the ground from behind and was flagged again. The penalty? Throwing an elbow to the back of Cutler's helmet. After, the commentators showed a slow motion replay that clearly showed Suh, with open hands throwing his palms into the back of Cutler's shoulder pads. He never hit the quarterback in the helmet at all. It was a legal play and once again, anything else Suh could have done might have been even more dangerous and harsh on the quarterback. Would Cutler have had a better chance of getting hurt being shoved down, or if Suh would have dove on him and drove him down underneath him?
It is a play that happens every game. Whenever a quarterback, running back, or receiver runs along the sideline, he is shoved out of bounds. Not moved gently out of bounds, but shoved hard or knocked out of bounds with real force. Suh does it and he gets flagged for a penalty that never occurred. Even with the replay showing the truth that no penalty had occurred, the NFL went ahead and fined him $7,500 on a foul he never committed.
The Invisible Horse Collar: Against the Cowboys, Suh broke into the back field as Marion Barber took a hand-off and forced the running back to change directions and run outside. Suh chased after him, got a hold of him and dragged him to the ground for a great tackle. Once again the yellow flags came out. He was called for a horse collar penalty. (which is when you drag a player down from behind by grabbing the collar.)
Once again, a replay was shown and we found Ndamukong Suh was flagged for a penalty that never happened. In fact, Suh never even touched Barber's collar, or body. The replay showed very clearly that Suh grabbed Barbers dreadlocks and dragged him down by the running backs hair. Which happens to be completely legal. The rules state that if a player chooses to allow his hair to grow long enough to run down below the helmet, he does so at his own risk. It is not illegal to drag a player down by his hair if he is dumb enough to let it grow that long and give a defensive player a handhold.
Then Came Dalton: Once again, if you look at the video, you will find the play is not nearly as dirty as it seems. When Suh got around his blocker, he leaped up with his hands up to keep the quarterback from throwing the ball. As Suh came down with his arms over top of the quarterback, Dalton threw the ball. Looking at the video over and over, I cannot say for sure that Suh could see him get rid of the ball. Especially when you consider it happened in real time and not slow motion. If Suh did not see the QB throw the ball, he had every reason to believe that Dalton still had it. No whistle was called so there was no reason for him to pull up.
This time he did not whip the QB down like he did with Delhomme. He learned from that mistake. If he whips him down, he gets flagged, so instead he wrapped him up and took him down in a hard tackle. And again he is flagged with a personal foul. A late hit that looked more vicious because of the helmet flying off of Andy Dalton. But go look at the video again. In watching it over and over, I do not believe it was Suh who knocked the helmet off. Suh came down from on top, grabbed onto the player and drove him down underneath him. He never swiped at the head in any way that would send the helmet flying like it did. He never pulled it off because his hands were still around the QB when the helmet flew off. Look close, and you will see the hand of another Lions player come in and it looks like it might be what knocks the helmet off. You will even notice that the helmet flies in the opposite direction from which the hand came in.
If there was a flag to be thrown, it would be because Suh let his arms drape across the helmet as he came down on top of him. A hit to the helmet could be seen in this circumstance I guess, but it was in no way a dirty play by Ndamukong Suh.
The Truth: Ndamukong Suh is a big, powerful, hard nosed player with a high motor. Where most players have to drag a quarterback down, Suh is strong enough to grab them and man handle them. So when he throws a player down, it looks a lot more vicious than it is. The first foul, when Suh whipped Delhomme to the ground was an unfortunate situation for him. He got the face mask and had no choice but to finish the play. He did not throw him down by the face mask. That would have been dirty. He let go of the face mask and tried to throw him down by the shoulders, but didn't get a hold of them from his upper position and unfortunately got the head some more. Not dirty but unfortunate as he had no choice but to finish the play. It was an incident that looked much more dirtier to the casual eye than it truly was, but it began a small reputation in the minds of others. Including the refs! Since then Suh has been flagged for penalties that even replays have shown he never committed.
Ndamukong Suh is not a dirty player. He is a rough player, a hard player and a stronger player. It is more of a case like a 13 year old playing football with a bunch of ten year-olds and not taking it easy on them. He looks vicious and rough and even dirty because he does not take it easy on the weaker kids. Only Suh is in the NFL. He is not allowed to play at anything other than full speed!
Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.
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