October 6, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Chris McCosky

Chris McCosky's Four Downs: Ndamukong Suh's tripping penalty likely won't go unnoticed

First Down

It’s never going to stop.

Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh opened himself up for more scrutiny Sunday, and possibly another fine. He was assessed a personal foul penalty for tripping in the first quarter.

It was an iffy call, but at this point, that probably won’t matter to the NFL rules people who review these sorts of plays.

The penalty came on the Packers’ first field-goal drive and it came on a third-down incompletion that would have ended the drive. Suh was being held on the play by guard T.J. Lang when he kicked his leg out in the direction of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

You could argue that he was fighting for leverage, trying to shed the hold. But, again, with Suh’s history, that may fall on deaf ears.

More troubling to the Lions, Suh’s penalty was one of seven for 50 yards. Two of them kept scoring drives alive and another helped stall one of their own drives.

Cornerback Bill Bentley was called for a questionable hold on a fourth-down stop away from the play. He seemed to make contact and release within the allowed five yards, but the flag was thrown.

It led to a 52-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.

As for the penalty on the offense, the Lions, down 3-0 at the time, moved the ball to the Packers’ 25 with 35 seconds left in the first half. On third-and-5, Stafford kept it and ran for a first down inside the 20. But Riley Reiff was called for holding behind the play and the Lions settled for the field goal.

Second Down

Linebacker DeAndre Levy is playing the best football of his career. He had 14 tackles Sunday, three for lost yardage and one pass breakup.

He made an incredible play to stop a screen pass for a two-yard loss in the second quarter. He was the only defender in the area and beat at least three blockers to take down running back Eddie Lacy.

Later in that drive, on third-and-one, he made a smart read on a pass into the flat and nearly had another pick-six.

But, like the rest of the team, he wasn’t accepting any bouquets.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “You come and you prepare and things are going well and we have a couple of breakdowns. We respond to it but we were never able to get that one extra stop or get turnovers and that’s what you got to do in a game like this.”

Levy was kicking himself for the 67-yard run by receiver Randall Cobb. It was probably the one time he didn’t get off a block Sunday. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah collapsed the left side of the Packers’ line, but there was nobody to fill the gap that he left.

Levy and defensive tackle Nick Fairley were taken out of the play.

Third Down

Last week, the Lions controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On Sunday, the Packers flipped the script.

The interior of the Packers offensive line — Even Dietrich-Smith, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang — won most of their battles against Suh and Fairley. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked once.

On top of that, the Packers rushed for 180 yards.

“Those guys are blue-collar types that really get after it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “And they are talented in their own right. I always refer to those guys as the core of our offense. Their play was vital.

“Everybody knows the importance of Fairley and Suh to their defense. That was our starting point.”

On the other side, the Packers’ defensive front, from the interior push to the constant edge pressure from Clay Matthews and Detroit native Nick Perry, kept Stafford on the run throughout the game.

“That is a good defensive front. I thought our offensive line played their butts off but that is a big defensive front in the middle and we struggled,” Stafford said. “You have to tip you hats to them.”

The Lions averaged just 3.4 yards per rush and Stafford was sacked five times and hit five times. The Packers forced seven negative yardage plays.

Fourth Down

If there was a mantra that was repeated in the Lions’ locker room afterward, it was this — We will bounce back.

“It is frustrating losing a game,” Stafford said. “It doesn’t matter to who or where you lose, any time you lose it is disappointing. But we have a tough group in here. Guys are going to work hard and we are going to bounce back. We are going to be fine.”

Stafford said the team is better equipped to respond to a disappointing loss this season. His teammates agreed.

“You have to (bounce back),” Levy said. “I mean, it’s a division game and it’s a tough loss but we play Cleveland next and they don’t care. They have no sympathy, so we have to come in and correct it and not let it snowball into next week.”



Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gets called for tripping Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter. / Daniel Mears / Detroit News
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