Cincinnati Bengals: ndamukong suh

CINCINNATI -- Maybe it's the dark visor that completely shields his eyes.

Or maybe it's his knack for punishing running backs with the types of hard tackles that make them slowly pull themselves up off the turf.

Whatever it is, something about Cincinnati Bengals linebacker James Harrison has his peers believing he is one of the NFL's most feared players.

In an anonymous survey conducted in locker rooms across the league by ESPN.com's 32 NFL reporters earlier this season, 5.6 percent of respondents said Harrison was the most feared player they went up against. A few of them were Bengals who have to deal with seeing the outside linebacker on a daily basis. Although he's a locker room favorite, many of them are glad he's finally playing with them and not against them.

As high as Harrison's vote percentage was, though, it wasn't that close to the survey's top vote-getters, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson. The intimidating Suh has gained a reputation for being one of if not the dirtiest player in the league for the after-whistle extracurricular activity that has become the hallmark of his play. A good pass-rusher and run-stopper, he has earned a reputation for being one of the most difficult defensive linemen to defend, too.

Johnson is arguably the game's best active receiver and expected to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and his intimidation appears to be the result of the wow factor that he possesses. The Bengals who selected him as the game's most feared player were amazed at how he had a knack for making the impossible look easy. During a Week 7 game between the Bengals and Lions, Johnson outleaped three Bengals defenders at the goal line to haul in a 50-yard touchdown pass. He was well covered but still had the athleticism to come down with the reception.

Plays like that make him difficult to solve.

Back quickly to Harrison. He likely developed his intimidating persona in Pittsburgh while playing for the Steelers. In his time in Cincinnati, he hasn't yet had the same on-the-field impact, but he has maintained his imposing off-the-field stature. His sometimes derisive and jokingly contentious behavior with media was captured by a film crew representing HBO's "Hard Knocks" last summer. By turning his back to the cameras and preventing them from gaining entry into certain meeting rooms, the legend of his fearful personality likely grew.

Bengals at Lions: Numbers Watch

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
8:00
AM ET
CINCINNATI -- Among the many matchups to watch Sunday afternoon when the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions meet at Ford Field will be the battle between the offensive lines.

The Bengals and Lions feature two of the NFL's premier pass-blocking units, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Both also are going against two of the best defensive lines in the league, as well. So will Cincinnati's 84.5 pass-blocking efficiency rating slip because of the Lions' intense, physical pass rush? Or will Detroit's own 83.1 pass-blocking efficiency rating take a hit because of the push that the Bengals' linemen will get?

Again, that's one matchup you'll want to pay close attention to.

There are several other items that deserve your focus, too, this weekend. Here are a few of them, as we take a deeper look at a few other numbers from both sides ahead of the ballgame:

5: The magical number both the Bengals and Lions are hoping to obtain this weekend. With mirrored 4-2 records, both are seeking their fifth win of the season.

20: Consecutive regular season games the Bengals have gone without allowing an opposing offense to have a 300-yard passing game. That's the longest active streak in the NFL. Including last year's playoff loss at Houston, that number increases to 21.

19: Number of 300-yard passing games Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has since he joined the league in 2009. He has two already this season.

1: Number of times during his career that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for three touchdowns in back-to-back games. He last did it during Weeks 2 and 3 of last season. In last week's win at Buffalo, he threw for three touchdowns for the first time since Week 12 against the Raiders.

205: Plays the Bengals have run with rookie running back Giovani Bernard on the field.

203: Plays the Bengals have run without Bernard on the field.

5.9: Yards per play the Bengals are averaging when Bernard is on the field.

4.4: Yards per play the Bengals are averaging when Bernard isn't on the field.

4.3: Yards per rush the Bengals are averaging when Bernard is on the field.

3.2: Yards per rush the Bengals are averaging when Bernard isn't on the field.

24.5: Sacks for Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins since the start of the 2010 season. No other interior lineman in the league has had that many sacks in that time.

21.5: Sacks for Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh since the start of the 2010 season. He ranks second on that list only to Atkins.

23: Times Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has been targeted in the end zone the last two seasons. He's caught four of those passes.

30: Times Bengals receiver A.J. Green has been targeted in the end zone the last two seasons. He's caught 10 of those passes.

1: Johnson's ranking among NFL receivers who have been part of 30-yard-plus plays since 2011.

2: Green's ranking among NFL receivers who have been part of 30-yard-plus plays since 2011.

67: Percentage of end zone targets Lions tight end Joseph Fauria has caught this season. He's 4-for-6 on balls thrown his way in the end zone this year. Johnson is only 2-for-8 with a dropped ball. Last year, Johnson was 2-for-15 on those opportunities.

68.0: QBR for quarterbacks who faced the Lions' defense last season.

38.7: QBR for quarterbacks who have faced the Lions' defense this season. That's good enough for fourth-best in the league this year.

7.41: Yards per passing attempt for Stafford, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

7.22: Yards per passing attempt for Dalton, according to PFF.com.

4.0: Average yards after catch attempt for Stafford, according to PFF.com.

3.9: Average yards after catch attempt for Dalton, according to PFF.com.

2.21: Average number of seconds it takes for Stafford to get the football out of his hand and into his receivers' hands. That pass release time is the fastest in the NFL, PFF.com says.

2.31: Average number of seconds it takes for Dalton to get the football out of his hand and into his receivers' hands. That pass release time is the third-fastest in the NFL, per PFF.com.

Information from ESPN's Stats & Info was used in this report. Follow on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.
CINCINNATI -- Andrew Whitworth, the outspoken Pro Bowl veteran and unofficial spokesman of the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line, has the perfect solution for handling Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the post-play antics that have caused most around the NFL to consider him a dirty player.

When they face the 307-pounder and the rest of the intimidating defensive line that boasts two other first-round draft picks Sunday afternoon, Whitworth believes he and his teammates need to have one concern: block him.

[+] EnlargeSuh
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiThe Bengals are focused on blocking Ndamukong Suh and not concerned about his other antics.
"It doesn't matter the extra antics that he does. They don't help him win," Whitworth said. "What helps them win is if you are worried about him and everyone takes a shot on him. Some of the stuff you've seen makes you ask, what will teams do? But if you are worried about whether or not you can get a cheap shot in, too, then you are playing into their game.

"The truth is, we need to worry about stopping him from getting to the quarterback and blocking him in run plays and scoring points. It really doesn't matter what else he does."

The NFL certainly cares about what Suh does post whistle. On Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Suh was fined for the seventh time of his four-year career for a hit on Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden last weekend. This time, Suh will be short $31,500, Schefter reported.

One of Suh's earliest fines came in August of 2011, when the NFL docked him $20,000 for a hit during a preseason game on Cincinnati's then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. The play in question came in the first quarter of Dalton's first game in a Bengals uniform. Suh broke past the offensive line, galloped into the backfield toward Dalton, and in one motion, grabbed the quarterback -- who had just gotten rid of the football -- around the neck, forcing his helmet to come off. Even as the helmet came dislodged, Suh's momentum continued, resulting in him picking up Dalton and slamming him, helmet-less, into the ground.

The Bengals remember the play quite well, but good luck getting any of them to talk about it this week. Many of them don't want to feed a story line that they don't think exists.

"He's a good player," Dalton said Wednesday, asked about the preseason hit. "He's an aggressive guy. He's a disruptive guy. So you've got to find ways to slow him down. You've got to do certain things because he's pretty good. We know where he's going to be, but it's a big challenge for us."

He had nothing else to say about the takedown.

Bengals center Kyle Cook, who was working on a double-team on another Lions defensive tackle when Suh ripped past and into Dalton two years ago, was similarly noncommittal when asked if Suh was a dirty player.

"He's a good player," Cook said, staying tight-lipped. "He's a good player."

Pushed a little further, Cook provided a slightly deeper answer.

"He plays with passion, obviously," Cook said. "Some people think his passion is stretched out at times to where he does some things that he probably wishes he didn't do but in the moment he thought were in the game."

Whether or not they are distressed about Suh's after-the-whistle play, the Bengals do truly seem to respect him.

"You are going to play lots of guys who have antics and a lot of that crap. It's going to happen," Whitworth said. "He happens to be a real good player who also has it so more people know him because of that. ... He's just a football player who plays the game intensely. You don't want him to take some cheap shot on you on an interception where you don't see him coming, but you can't really do anything about it. Truth is, let's just talk about blocking their guys and winning the football game."

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