Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett criticized the NFL for a perceived bias towards offensive players, and said Ndamukong Suh was only punished by the league because he happened to step on a quarterback.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Bennett was asked if he felt the league catered to offenses. In his response, Bennett singled out the play in which Suh stepped on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a sign that the NFL was more proactive about enforcing rules to protect offensive players.
"This is a fantasy football league," Bennett said. "That's how it's set up now. You take that play Suh did. He did step on somebody's foot, but he gets fined because it's the quarterback.
As a defensive lineman, people are always stepping on you. People always are hitting you in the head. There's always something happening to you, but nobody cares because we're defensive linemen."
Suh was initially suspended for one game as punishment for the play, during the Week 17 game between the Detroit Lions and the Packers, in which the defensive tackle back-peddled and stepped on Rodgers' leg.
The suspension was overturned and Suh was penalized with a $70,000 fine instead. He finished the season with 53 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
Bennett, who ended the season with 38 tackles and seven sacks, went on to say that offensive players had more freedom on the field because of the strict manner in which rules were enforced against defenses.
"You can't touch a quarterback here, can't put your hand on a receiver there," Bennett said. "You have to let them run free, but if I get knocked to the ground, the referee just steps over me and says, 'That's part of the game.'"
Bennett's Seahawks finished the season 12-4, earning a No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs as well as a first round bye. Suh and the Lions, 11-5 on the season, will travel to play the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs on Jan. 4 at 4:40 pm ET.
Depending on the outcome of their game on Saturday, the Lions could face Seattle in the NFC Divisional round on Jan. 10 at 8:15 pm ET.