Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Matt Ludtke
December 29, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit's hopes of winning a playoff game for the first time since 1991 took a huge hit in the form of Ndamukong Suh.

The NFL announced Monday that the Lions' defensive tackle had been suspended for this weekend's wild-card playoff game in Dallas for a violation of safety-related playing rules against Green Bay in the season finale. Suh got in trouble for stepping on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' left leg twice, once with each foot. Suh also applied pressure and pushed off Rodgers' unprotected leg with his left foot, violating unnecessary roughness rules, the league said.

Suh, who will be reinstated next Monday, can appeal the suspension within three days. He can ask for an expedited appeal, which would be heard by Ted Cottrell, a hearing officer employed by the NFL and the players' union.

Suh did not speak with reporters at the Lions practice facility.

Lions center Dominic Raiola, coming off his own one-game ban for a similar incident, was enraged by the suspension.

''The play ... he wasn't even looking at (Rodgers).'' Raiola said. ''He was getting pushed back a little bit. It was ridiculous what Fox did right after it. It was crazy, watching it. I couldn't even listen to those guys after he did it.

''There is no way, at that point in the game, that he did something like that on purpose. No way.''

Added teammate Larry Warford: ''It's part of what has been happening around here. Obviously, they're going to be stricter on us. That is just a fact of what happened a week before.

''They're obviously a lot stricter with our team,'' Warford continued, referring to the NFL. ''It's something we have to fight through. A little adversity. We'll make it through.''

Suh is a repeat offender with a long list of fines and one previous suspension, for two games in 2011 for stepping on the right arm of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. Suh has been fined seven times in his career, but this is the first in 2014.

''It's a huge loss,'' defensive end Darryl Tapp said. ''It's Ndamukong Suh. We do a lot of things with him on the defense. We build a lot of stuff around him. But it's not nothing we can't overcome. We have to overcome it. It's the playoffs. Win or go home. We'll have to sell out to get our brother back, and hopefully we can do that.''

The Lions boast the No. 1 rushing defense in the league, limiting opposing teams to just 69.3 rushing yards per game. But the Packers racked up 152 yards on the ground in their NFC North-clinching win over the Lions on Sunday - the most Detroit has surrendered all season.

In fact, the Lions hadn't allowed a team to amass 100 or more yards on the ground since a win at the Jets on Sept. 28.

''Our defense has been really strong in that area all through the year, when you look at it statistically,'' coach Jim Caldwell said. ''There have been very few teams that have been able to run it on us with any regularity, except for yesterday. Obviously, they ran the ball us on extremely well. We have some things to get worked out, and that's our job.''

Now, the Lions must regroup in time to shut down the most productive running back in the league this season: DeMarco Murray, whose 115.3 yards-per-game average is 20 yards per game more than anyone else in the NFL.

And the front seven will be without the dynamic presence of Suh and, in all likelihood, Nick Fairley, who hasn't played since suffering a knee injury against Atlanta on Oct. 26. Caldwell said he ''can't rule out'' the possibility that Fairley plays but that it ''would be a miracle.''

With Suh sidelined, pending the appeal process, the responsibility to clog up the middle of the field will fall to the rest of the defensive linemen, such as C.J. Mosley and ends Ziggy Ansah and Andre Fluellen. Even Tapp, who normally lines up on the outside, may be asked to play some tackle.

Tapp, who spent the last three seasons within the Cowboys' division at Philadelphia and Washington, knows what kind of challenge the Dallas offense poses.

''Murray runs very hard, and he's very explosive,'' Tapp said. ''Their offensive line is as advertised. They always get guys who are big, strong and athletic.''


AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.



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