Lions Discover Discipline

DL Ndamukong Suh (Mike Carter/USP)

Both teams say they have moved on since Ndamukong Suh's infamous Thanksgiving stomp of Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz is tired of talking about Ndamukong Suh's stomp. But with his Lions facing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, it was inevitably a primary line of questioning during his conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday.

"We've talked about it way too much," Schwartz said at one point.

Suh's stomping victim, Evan Dietrich-Smith, was in no mood to talk about an incident that happened five weeks ago, either.

"That was a long time ago," Dietrich Smith said. "He called me a couple days after everything happened, and he's cool, he apologized, and there's no hard feelings and that's pretty much it."

Since Suh's two-game suspension, in which the Lions went 1-1, they are 2-0. During those games, he's been flagged once for offside. For the season, he's been penalized seven times — fourth-most among all NFL interior defensive linemen. Since the start of the 2010 season, Suh leads the league with nine personal fouls, according to STATS.

Whatever set off Suh on Thanksgiving — nobody has divulged the details — Schwartz said he expected teams to try to get under his skin.

"That's a fact of life in the NFL, whether you're Ndamukong Suh or anybody else," Schwartz said. "There's all kind of things that happen during a game but you can't lose your composure. If you do lose your composure, you've got to make sure it's your last time.

"We had a couple situations at the end of the San Diego game that we were very comfortably in the lead and we were going to win the game and there were some situations that arose on the field and our players did a good job of walking away from those. We have to be able to do the same thing because this game's about playing hard between the snap and the whistle. It's not about anything else. It's not about all the talk that goes on. There's always stuff that happens. People get surprised that somebody might say something mean to somebody on the field. This is football. We're not playing chess. This isn't a social club. We're trying our very best to physically beat to the person in front of us but we want to do it between the snap and the whistle."

From Schwartz's perspective, talking about the relatively distant past isn't as important as talking about the very recent past. Following the Suh stomp, the Lions repeatedly lost their cool at New Orleans, incurring 11 penalties for 107 yards. The next week against Minnesota, they were hit with 10 penalties for 76 yards. After that, it was nine penalties for 72 yards at Oakland. They were been on their best behavior last week against San Diego, however, with three penalties for 8 yards.

"I think we understood what it was doing to our team," quarterback Matthews Stafford said during his conference call. "It wasn't much of an individual thing, it was more of a ‘We can't win when we do that.' And we're all here to win, we're all here to make the playoffs and do all those things, and so I think as leaders of the team and as a coaching staff and as players in total we've done a great job of limiting those the last couple weeks."

For the season, the Lions rank fourth in penalties (117) and fifth in yards (974). The Packers have the fewest penalties (70) and second-fewest penalty yards (513) in the league.

"One of the ways you put it behind you is you don't talk about it," Schwartz said. "I think it is what it is. Obviously, it happened and Ndamukong was suspended and we didn't have him for a couple of games, but after that, you've got to learn from it and you've got to move on. We certainly don't want to have any penalties that happen after the whistle. We want to play as tough and aggressive as we can to the whistle. Nothing's really changed there."

Schwartz said he didn't expect any retaliation from the Packers, and from Green Bay's perspective, the incident is ancient history,

"Yeah, we've moved past that since, obviously, right after Thanksgiving," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "It's an unfortunate incident, but you know, it's something that I don't think anybody's really thinking about. We have bigger goals in mind and bigger objectives."

Added Dietrich-Smith: "He's a good football player, stuff happens, and that's about it."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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