CHICAGO -- The frightening, ever-present reality of the National Football League was illuminated Monday night when Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh slammed Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to the ground.
It was a legal assault as NFL rules and behavior go. But at first glance, it felt criminal. We're in an enlightened age now, the era of empathy. Suh celebrated the hit and it felt like a heel playing to a wrestling crowd. A good football play, as most people called it, though Brandon Marshall later tweeted, "What u did to Jay wasn't cool. Great players don't have to do that."
It was late in the second quarter and the Bears were winning when Suh caught up to a scrambling Cutler, pinned his left arm and stuck his right elbow between Cutler's left shoulder and neck as he drove him into the ground. As you might expect, Cutler landed hard.
"I thought I was gone," Cutler said. "But when he got ahold of me, I knew at that point, I knew it wasn't going to end well."
With that deadpan delivery, Cutler paused for the laughs from the media assembled as a painful, but meaningful Monday night drew to a close. Cutler had every reason to force a smile through bruised ribs, because the Bears improved to 5-1 with a 13-7 victory over the Lions.