Penalty or Not, Lions Lack of Discipline Yet Another Reason Why They Don’t Win

Kudos to Brian Van Ochten writing for the Grand Rapids Press at mlive.com for nailing the real issue behind Ndamukong Suh’s unnecessary roughness penalty:

“In the fourth quarter, referee Ed Hochuli didn’t hesitate to toss his flag upon seeing Lions superstar rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh take what appeared to him to be a cheap shot to the back of the neck or the helmet of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as both players approached the sideline.

“It resulted in a personal foul that put the Bears in a first-and-goal situation.”

“It happened in the season opener at Chicago, right?

“The ruling that stripped Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson of an apparent go-ahead touchdown in the final moments of that contest because he failed to control the football all the way to the ground, was just the beginning of it, right? It was such a rotten call that even Jim Joyce could smell it.”

“It happened on Suh’s phantom horse-collar tackle against the Dallas Cowboys, right?

“It happened on tight end Brandon Pettigrew’s offensive pass-interference call against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving Day, right?”

“‘I don’t care if it’s a penalty or not,’ Suh insisted.

“The problem is he needs to learn to care about that stuff.”

“‘What for?,’ Suh responded when asked if he should adjust his game due to the officiating. ‘There’s no reason to.’”

“It’s up to the Lions to become a much more disciplined team if they hope to get through the painful process of learning to finish games.”

Dead on.  If the Lions are ever going to win games, they have to be disciplined or they are going to continue to find ways to lose games.  The difference between the Bears and the Lions was never so evident than it was on the two controversial penalties the Lions incurred against them.

Sure, Johnson “looked” like he caught the game winning touchdown pass against the Bears in week one.  But calls to change the rule that cost him that catch buried the lead.  He dropped the ball at the end of the play when every receiver in the NFL knows very well that you have to get up off the ground with it in your hand to erase all doubt.  Otherwise, you open yourself up to the call that was made.

As I said in my game comments Sunday, whether you thought the call against Suh was a good one or not, the fact remains that if he thinks even for an instant and shoves Cutler with his forearm just six inches lower, there’s no question of a penalty on the play.  GM Jerry Angelo said it best:

“The officials made the right call. It’s unfortunate. I understand the heat of the moment, but our players know better.”

Guys like Brian Urlacher might not like it but the Bears do know better.  Defensive players aren’t allowed to run around and be neanderthals anymore.  They have to think about where they are hitting players and lower their target in the same way that offensive blockers have to stop before blocking a man in the back.  Its a tough thing to do in the heat of the moment but players on good teams do it.

The message is clear.  If you can’t play under control and with discipline, you aren’t going to be playing at all.  You learn or you lose.

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