Lions’ Suh wins suspension appeal

ALLEN PARK — Reprieve granted.

Ndamukong Suh won his appeal of a one-game suspension Tuesday and will play in the Detroit Lions’ wild-card game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Independent arbitrator Ted Cottrell made the decision to repeal Suh’s suspension and instead fined him $70,000 for stepping on the leg of Aaron Rodgers in a 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers last week.

The NFL suspended Suh on Monday for what it termed “a non-football act” that placed Rodgers “at unnecessary risk of injury.”

Suh took two backwards steps onto Rodgers’ injured left leg after knocking the Packers quarterback to ground on a fourth-quarter pass attempt. NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks said in a letter to Suh explaining the punishment that his second step and subsequent push off Rodgers’ leg “clearly could have been avoided.”

Had Suh’s suspension been upheld, it would have been almost unprecedented considering the circumstances.

A Monday search of past NFL-issued discipline revealed no known incidences where the league benched a player for a postseason game because of on-field rules violations.

New York Giants fullback Merle Hapes was suspended for the 1946 championship game, but that punishment came after he admitted gamblers approached him about fixing the game and he did not report it to the league, according to Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Cottrell also overturned Ed Reed’s one-game suspension for repeated helmet-to-helmet hits in 2012.

The Lions had no immediate response to Cottrell’s decision, but having Suh back in the lineup certainly helps their chances of winning a playoff game for just the second time in the Super Bowl era.

Suh leads the Lions with 8.5 sacks, ranks third in the NFL with 21 tackles-for-loss and has been the most destructive player on the league’s top-ranked rushing defense this year.

The Cowboys rank second in the NFL in rushing, have the league’s top back in DeMarco Murray (1,845 yards) and one of the best offensive lines in the game.

“Y’all see his numbers and what he’s done so you understand how you can’t really replace that,” defensive end Jason Jones said.

Even though Suh won his appeal, the incident cast another cloud over his tumultuous five seasons in Detroit as well as this year’s 11-5 record.

Suh, the second Lion suspended by the league in as many weeks – center Dominic Raiola served a one-game suspension last week for jumping on the ankle of Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson – has now been fined nine times in his career and suspended once for a 2011 stomp on the Packers’ Evan-Dietrich Smith.

“Both suspensions, that’s unnecessary,” ESPN analyst Mike Tirico said in a conference call Tuesday. “For everything that the Lions did to get back, for a leader on the line on offense and defense on back-to-back weeks to get suspended for those types of incidents, that’s awful. That’s not championship football and those are two guys that are desperate to win championships and at the biggest moment didn’t do it.

“Two unfortunate blights on a season that should look back and say that team did more than a lot of people thought they would.”

The NFL did not take Suh’s past history into account when it issued its punishment Monday, and that may have helped him in the appeals process Tuesday.

Including his latest fine and his 2011 suspension, Suh, who’ll be a free agent after the season, has lost more than $450,000 to NFL discipline.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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