Playbook: Suh’s stomp crossed the line

For the viewing public, it has to be hard to understand why a player like Ndamukong Suh steps on an opposing player. Of all the kinds of “field justice” out there, that crosses the line.

But the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork made an interesting point this past weekend when he called defensive tackle one of the most frustrating positions in the game. And by watching how the Packers’ line played Suh on coaching tape, you get a full sense of what Wilfork means.

On several plays, Green Bay’s guards -– Josh Sitton to start the game and Evan Dietrich-Smith when the incident occurred -– got a nice hold of Suh’s shoulder pads, and, a couple times, his facemask. We saw two instances in the second quarter, specifically, where Dietrich-Smith tugged at his helmet gear. That’s on top of all of the everyday scraps and blocks to the legs a stud DT has to handle.

What had to be even more frustrating for Suh? The Packers blocked him pretty well. Potential, uncalled holding penalties aside, Sitton handled him one-on-one for much of the game, and when Dietrich-Smith, a third-year backup from Idaho State, entered after Sitton was injured, the Packers slid protection over to help him against Suh.

As a result, the Lions’ star defensive tackle got little pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and that had to only fuel his fire leading up to the infamous stomp.

Here is the sequence of events leading up to it:

  • First down: Suh is able to swim move Dietrich-Smith and has a free path to QB, but Rodgers hits a quick pass to Jordy Nelson before Suh can get home.
  • Second down: Dietrich-Smith gets help from center Scott Wells and seems to lock up Suh around his abdomen.
  • Third down: Suh is lined up inside shade of the right guard and shoots for an outside pass rush. Suh uses his bull rush;, however, Dietrich-Smith gets a good grip inside of Suh’s shoulder pads, gains leverage and pulls him down to the ground. Then, Suh begins to jam Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground before getting up and stomping on his arm.

Games within the trenches are different each week with each matchup. The referees don’t dictate the tone and rules of the trenches -– the players do. Suh took his share of shots throughout the game (he had his hands to the throat of a Packers linemen a couple of times). The fine line, however, is setting an effective tone without crossing the line. Suh’s foot stomp did.

Filling in

While we were impressed with how Dietrich-Smith filled in for Sitton during the Packers-Lions game, it was also impressive to see Green Bay’s depth at linebacker when A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop went down on Thursday.

Rookie D.J. Smith (Appalachian State) and third-year player Robert Francois (Boston College) were called upon and stepped up accordingly. In a defense that relies heavily upon the inside ‘backers making plays over the top of the meat eaters, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, Smith and Francois made a combined eight tackles, and Francois came up with a timely interception in the third quarter to give the Packers momentum to close out the game.

Veteran Brad Jones also contributed off the bench to replace a dinged up Erik Walden, setting solid edges in the run game.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET (AFC) and 9 p.m. ET (NFC) on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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