ALLEN PARK — Ndamukong Suh may not be able to escape his past.
The Detroit Lions defensive tackle faces a fine or suspension from the league after his low block penalty that took out the knees of Vikings’ center John Sullivan on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The first-quarter whistle not only negated a Lions’ interception return for a touchdown by DeAndre Levy, it changed the momentum of the game.
Suh’s history could work against him. The former NFL problem child was suspended for two games without pay in 2011 for stomping on a Packers player Evan Dietrich-Smith. At that point, Suh had nine personal foul penalties in his first two seasons and had been fined three times for roughing the passer and another time for unsportsmanlike conduct.
On Sunday had the Lions not come back and beat their division opponent with a strong second half, that penalty that could have cost them a win.
“I talked to him on the field about it because obviously it cost us, it cost us a touchdown. It was behind the play, it wasn’t very far behind the play but it was behind the play. It was an offensive lineman, he wasn’t going to catch Levy,’’ Schwartz said at his Monday press conference.
Suh told the media and his coach that he was going for Sullivan’s mid-section.
“He explained to me was he didn’t want to hit him high because if he hits him in the head right there it’s a peel-back and that’s a penalty also. He was trying to hit him at the waist, ended up in a bad spot and went low,’’ Schwartz said.
The coach said he had not heard from the league.
“I don’t think there was any attempt to injure or things like that,’’ Schwartz said. “It wasn’t 40 yards behind the play, it wasn’t hitting the guy from behind or some of the things we’ve seen from other players recently, going low and hitting guys from behind.’’
He’s not sure how Suh’s past will affect the league’s decision whether to fine or suspend him. Suh, often regarded as the NFL’s dirtiest player, had just one personal foul penalty last season.
Sullivan, the victim, told KFAN in Minneapolis that it was “pretty clear” that he was out of the play when Suh blocked him.
“I don’t think he was trying to hurt me,” Sullivan told KFAN. “But there need to be consequences when guys don’t respect the careers of other players.”
Sullivan, who made microfracture surgery on his left knee in the offseason, did not miss a snap due to the hit.
Suh, who was elected a captain on defense for the first time, called a brief team meeting last week telling his teammates to avoid silly penalties.
“Silly penalty” exactly describes his low block.
“We have to learn from it,’’ Schwartz said. “We have to put it behind us and do better the next time we’re in that situation.’’
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