Let me first say that there is no excuse for Suh's stomp on Smith this week. It showed extreme immaturity as a player and crippled his team's chances to win a game that they were very much in. I have as much patience for excuses as I did for DJ Moore's cheap shot on Stafford a few weeks back. None.
That said, while condemning what Ndamukong did, I think we can still benefit from understanding his mindset when he stomped on Smith's bicep. Was he mad that he got pancaked on the play? Is he just a cheap shot artist? Or is something else going on here? Follow me over the jump for an analysis of the footage.
That's the play in question. The Packers are stopped at 3rd and goal on the opening drive of the 2nd half. You can follow along on the link above. The relevant portion starts 53 seconds in. You'll have to follow along in the video since I haven't learned how to add images on POD.
0:53 - EDS and Suh are circled. EDS is about to pancake Suh on the play.
0:57 - Suh has just been brought to the ground. EDS's arm is clearly wrapped under Suh's shoulder holding him to the ground.
1:00 - Suh pushes EDS's head into the ground foro the first time as he tries to escape being grappled. #63 reaches down to try and separate them, as the play is over.
1:01 - Suh continues to push himself up, pushing EDS helmet into the ground a second time. EDS's hand is still firmly wrapped around the back of Suh's shoulder.
1:02 - A referee rushes over, reaching his hands toward Suh's left shoulder where we saw EDS's hand one second earlier. We see EDS's helmet go into the turf for the 3rd time here. (It's tough to tell what's going on here because #63 is in the way, but based on the fact that the ref is reaching toward Suh's shoulder to separate them rather than reaching for his flag, I lean toward believing Suh is still being held down rather than just indiscriminately bashing EDS's helmet into the turf.)
1:03 - Suh suddenly shoots upwards. (Again, the view is blocked because #63 is in the way, but my interpretation is that either the referee or Suh managed to dislodge EDS's hand from Suh's shoulder and his efforts to stand up suddenly succeed.) You can see #70 running into the frame and he collides with Suh the moment he stands up knocking him backwards and off balance
1:04 - As Suh stumbles backwards, EDS reaches up and puts his hand on Suh's knee. You can't really tell if he's grabbing it or pushing or just touches it. (It looks like he reaches up and grabs it to me, but that's open to interpretation. Note that this is the same hand that EDS was just using to hold Suh down.)
1:05 - Suh falls back and #74 breaks his fall, helping hold him up. (Some people were saying that a Packers player pushed Suh back into EDS, but I see no evidence of that. It looks like #74 just tried to keep him from falling.)
1:06 - "The Stomp" heard round the world. Suh stomps on EDS's arm as he turns to walk away. (It looks intentional.)
The whole incident happened within just a few seconds. Let's look at it from Suh's perspective:
He's been brought to the ground. He's trying to escape being held down on the ground by an OT after a pancake. He tries to free himself for about 6 seconds before finally succeeding. The very moment he manages to stand up he gets hit and pushed back by another Packers player. As he falls backwards, the guy who was holding him down puts his hand on his knee. Angrily, he lashes out at the arm that just grabbed at him. From when he hit the ground until the stomp, the whole incident lasted about 10 seconds.
That scenario I just laid out seems pretty consistent with his post-game explanation for the incident. Basically that he was being held down and harried from all directions and did his best to extricate himself from the situation, from his perspective. He seemed very frustrated.
What about the stomp? One explanation is that in Suh's mind he stomped EDS's arm to keep EDS's hand from reaching over and grabbing him a third time. In his mind he was ejected just for trying to get away and he is really upset because his ejection helped cost his team the game. I think all of us can relate to being angry and remembering things differently than they actually happened.
What he did was unacceptable and we should expect a (deserved) multi-game suspension for Suh. It doesn't matter how upset he was, he can't lash out at another player like that. It is bad news for our playoff hopes and bad news for our team's image. However, I am hoping that after Ndamukong receives his suspension and has a chance to calm down and reexamine the incident with a cool head, he will acknowledge what he did wrong and work to improve his discipline.
Despite this nasty incident today, I think Suh is still defensible as a person. What do you all think?