- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton expects the Detroit Lions "to be looking for cheap shots and all that mess" Sunday when the teams meet at Ford Field in the regular-season finale.
Asked what type of game he expects, Melton said, "Dirty."
"They're dirty. They've always been a dirty team since I've been here," Melton said. "I don't like them. We've just got to hold our composure and play the game we know."
With the Lions sitting at 4-11 with no chance to advance into the postseason, Melton thinks they could ramp up the dirty play in an effort to spoil Chicago's season. At 9-6, the Bears need a win at Detroit on Sunday paired with a Minnesota Vikings' loss to the Green Bay Packers to advance to the playoffs.
When the teams last met on Oct. 22, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh sacked Jay Cutler violently and knocked the wind out of him during Chicago's 13-7 win at Soldier Field. Cutler said he didn't have a problem with a hit, deemed legal. But the play prompted receiver Brandon Marshall to offer his take on Twitter and ESPN's "First Take."
"A Suh," Marshall tweeted. "What u did to Jay wasn't cool. Great players don't have to do that. A Suh. Something I've learned and now passing down to you. Succeed with character."
Later on "First Take," Marshall said: "Last night the leg whip that Ndamukong Suh placed on our quarterback Jay Cutler: That was dirty. That was dirty. He can be one of the best D-tackles that ever done it, but he cannot do that that way. If you look at it, c'mon man, this is not wrestling. You don't do that. That's not clean."
Throughout the series, both teams have engaged in aggressive play often deemed illegal by the NFL. Last November, Suh yanked off the helmet of Cutler during a 37-13 win at Soldier Field. In that game, six players received fines totaling $62,500, including Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford ($7,500) and Chicago cornerback D.J. Moore ($15,000), who were involved in an incident that led to an on-field brawl between the teams.
During the first meeting between the teams last season -- a 24-13 Lions win at Ford Field on Oct. 10 -- former Bears safety Brandon Meriweather received a $25,000 fine for a vicious hit on receiver Nate Burleson, while cornerback Charles Tillman was docked $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle on Jahvid Best.
Even two years ago, an incident in which Suh shoved Cutler hard in the back during a 24-20 Bears win led to a $15,000 fine from the league.
"They just try to do all this extra stuff: talking, little cheap shots," Melton said. "If you look at the tape, they've always thrown cheap shots. We had a brawl I think last year. So it is what it is. I'm ready."
Melton singled out center Dominic Raiola as the Lions' biggest trash talker: "He's old, and he just talks."
Asked whether Raiola used personal barbs during his trash talking, Melton said, "No, he's more just cuss words. Bad language. Then he'll throw some cheap shots in there, and then he'll say some bad words."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz refused to go into any pregame trash talk Wednesday when informed Melton called his team dirty.
"I don't know. The focus is on the game on Sunday, and I think when you're in the division, teams know each other very well," Schwartz said. "They play against each other a lot. The one thing that's going to matter when we get to Sunday is the guys that are on the field and playing. I think we'll just leave it there."
Melton missed Chicago's win over the Arizona Cardinals because of a clavicle injury, but he hopes to return to face the Lions.
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