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Lions rookie has lived up to the hype.
By Charean Williams
Ndamukong Suh had 85 tackles, 26 quarterback pressures, 12 sacks and 10 pass deflections last season at Nebraska. He has 52 tackles, eight sacks, an interception and a fumble return for a touchdown in his first season with the Detroit Lions.
So what’s the difference?
The NFL hasn’t changed Suh. It’s the same as last year.
“I wanted to come in and do whatever I had to do to help my team win,” Suh said at a Nike Summit at Cowboys Stadium this week. “Whether it’s making a million plays or making no plays, I wanted to be the guy to help my team by making plays or being that guy that allows everybody else to make plays. That was my main focus. From early in the season, through the middle of the season, I was a guy that really got singled up and was allowed to be able to put in a position to make plays. I could take pressure off my other teammates. In turn, we can all play together.”
Suh filled his trophy case at the end of last season, winning every award he was eligible except the Heisman. This season, he is the runaway favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
“I definitely have hopes of winning it,” Suh said. “But the way I approach it and the way I approached it last year, with all the awards I was up for in college, is that (it’s all good) as long as I help my team win. … I’m playing my heart out, playing as hard as I can every single day and every single game. We want to win out. That’s the main focus, continue to play hard and hopefully we can accomplish that and I can take some hardware home.”
Hall’s up-and-down season
Redskins cornerback DeAngleo Hall has been better than good this season. He’s also been worse than bad. He has been frustratingly inconsistent.
Hall is one of the league’s best at forcing turnovers and is a threat to go the distance when he does. He ranks second in the NFL with six interceptions, and he has forced two fumbles. He has two touchdowns this season, a 32-yard fumble return against the Cowboys in the season opener and had a 92-yard interception return against the Bears.
“Sometimes it’s right place, right time,” Hall said. “Some of it’s film study. This defense definitely kind of gives us an opportunity to take a couple of chances — take safe chances I should say.”
But Hall also has been one of the most targeted and most burned cornerbacks in the league, according to STATS, Inc. He has been targeted 80 times, giving up 57 receptions for 735 yards and six touchdowns.
“There have some situations where I’ve just gotten beat,” Hall said. “You take the Philly game for instance. Mike (Vick) drops back and throws the bomb to (Jeremy) Maclin. Even the Tampa Bay game I gave up a long pass.”
Matthews slowing down
Injuries are starting to take their toll not only on the Packers’ playoff hopes but also on Clay Matthews’ chances of winning Defensive Player of the Year. He had a sack against the Lions, giving him 12.5 for the season, but it was his first sack in three games and only his fourth in the past seven outings.
“It is difficult,” Matthews said when asked if it was difficult to keep his play up with the injuries around him. “When you’re losing not only guys but key contributors to the team, our coaches have done a good job, but our backups are now required to play and our playmakers had to step up.”
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu now is the favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Fourth and short
• Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is playing better than he did in 2007, if that’s possible. Brady, who threw an NFL-record 50 touchdowns three years ago, has 29 touchdowns and four interceptions. That despite having his No. 1 receiver traded at midseason, while getting little help from his defense. Since losing to the Browns on Nov. 7, New England has won five consecutive games without committing a turnover. Brady has not thrown an interception since Oct. 17, and during the five-game winning streak, he has completed more than 67 percent of his passes.
• Colts quarterback Peyton Manning now has the longest active consecutive starts streak at 205. If the league goes to an 18-game schedule next year, Manning can break Favre’s record of 297 on Week 3 of the 2016 season.
• The Jaguars last won a division title in 1999. They have only eight players who have been on division-winning teams.
• The Saints have scored 30 points or more in five consecutive games after topping the 30-point mark only once in the first eight games.
• Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has thrown at least one interception in each of the past eight games. In the past three games, the Jets have gone 1-2 in scoring 35 total points. Sanchez has completed 50-of-105 passes for 546 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in the past three games.
• Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe has caught one pass for three yards in the past two games. In the three games before his dry spell, Bowe caught 32 passes for 465 yards and seven touchdowns.
• Despite missing two games with a hamstring strain, Raiders running back Darren McFadden has 993 yards. With 302 yards over the last three games, he will surpass Napolean Kaufman (1,294 yards in 1994) for the second-best single-season rushing total in Raiders’ history. Marcus Allen holds the franchise record with 1,759 yards in 1985.
• Eagles kicker David Akers has made 22 of his past 23 field goal tries. His only miss in that span was a 42-yarder that the Giants blocked.
• The Steelers’ offense ranks 20th in the NFL and has scored only two touchdowns in the past three games. One of those touchdowns came on a nine-yard drive following a Troy Polamalu forced fumble. The defense scored two touchdowns Sunday against Cincinnati.
• Dolphins left tackle Jake Long is playing despite painful knee and shoulder injuries that could require surgery after the season. He has been penalized for three holds and has allowed 4.5 sacks.
• Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has six 100-yard games in a row. He has 1,278 yards for the season, and he seems likely to pass last year’s total of 1,391, when he made the Pro Bowl.
• Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has had five interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, the first quarterback since A.J. Feeley had that many with the Dolphins in 2004. The most since 1991 is six by Peyton Manning in 2001, according to STATS, Inc.
• The Texans have been outscored 75-36 in the first quarter and 119-75 in the second. They have outscored opponents 88-58 in the third quarter and 114-97 in the fourth.
• Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has had 63 300-yard games, tying him with Dan Marino for the most in NFL history.
• Browns running back Peyton Hillis has 1,070 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns this season. But, with eight fumbles, five lost, he now has a reputation as a fumbler. Bills safety Jairus Byrd speculated that Hillis’ arms are so big that Hillis can’t adequately cover up the ball, making it easier to knock out.
• Houston is 3-4 at Reliant Stadium.
• The Cowboys are 1-6 at home this season.
• Injured quarterback Tony Romo is on schedule in his rehabilitation from a fractured left clavicle. But no decision has been made on him returning to the field this season if at all.
• The Falcons are riding the broad shoulders of running back Michael Turner down the stretch. Turner has 441 yards and six touchdowns in the past four games.
• Baltimore has lost a fourth quarter lead eight times this season.
• Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen has not thrown a touchdown in 193 consecutive passes.
• Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has six sacks and six quarterback pressures in his past four games.
• The Bengals have 15 players on injured reserve, including eight defensive backs.
• The Patriots are 10-0 under head coach Bill Belichick when playing in the snow. In the past three games played in the snow, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 142-14.
• Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 3-1 at Heinz Field this season with a passer rating of 104.6, which includes nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. He is 37-11 in his career at home — a .771 winning percentage.
• Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 20-1 in games played in December and January.
• Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in the draft, was placed on injured reserve with a torn left biceps. McCoy ended his rookie season with three sacks and 28 tackles in 13 games.
• Even if they win out to finish 8-8, the Titans still will have had just six winning seasons in 16 full seasons under Jeff Fisher.
• During Brian Orkapo’s two seasons as the Redskins’ top pass-rusher (19.5 sacks in 29 games), they are 3-1 when he records two or more and 2-8 when he has half a sack or a full one.