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Lions' Suh fined $30,000; says kick not on purpose

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Lions' Suh fined $30,000; says kick not on purpose

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Ndamukong Suh's reputation for being a nasty player was born as an NFL rookie.

Suh slammed two quarterbacks to the ground by grabbing their helmets two years ago, and his image became even more notorious last season when he infamously stomped on an opponent.

Just when the Detroit Lions defensive tackle started to improve his ability to play the game cleanly this season, he had a setback.

But if you think he's contrite, guess again.

The NFL fined Suh $30,000 on Wednesday for unnecessary roughness because he kicked Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin area. The previous day, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league didn't suspend him because it couldn't reach a judgment on his intent.

Schaub shouldn't hold his breath waiting to hear Suh say he's sorry.

``I was dragged to the ground,'' Suh said. ``A lot of things happen to me.

``It's part of the game.''

Suh was on his chest after being taken down by an offensive lineman when his left cleat hit Schaub below the belt in Detroit's loss to Houston last Thursday.

``I just thought it was very Suh-like to give a little extension there at the end,'' Texans linebacker Connor Barwin said.

For the first time, Suh tried to explain what happened.

``It's a crazy play, it's one that unfortunately happened,'' he said. ``I didn't even realize it until the end of the game, when I see my Twitter feed, I see my friends telling me about it. Other than that, I can't do much more about it. I was being dragged to the ground and my foot inadvertently hit the man.

``But it's over with and I am moving forward and getting ready to play the Colts.''

Detroit (4-7) will have Suh on the field when it hosts Indianapolis (7-4) because he dodged another suspension from the NFL. His reputation, though, has taken another hit.

``Certainly the perception in the NFL is he's a very dirty player,'' Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. ``The perception among players is that he's not very well liked. The perception among the fans is starting to be the same.

``It's one thing to play hard and have physical hits in the course of a game or be an aggressive player, but it's another thing to take just blatant cheap shots all the time.''

The NFL suspended Suh for two games last season after he stomped on Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving Day. Suh said sorry to Dietrich-Smith personally for stepping on his right arm on purpose and has shown remorse publicly for what he did a year ago.

``I think I'm always going to be punished some form or fashion for last Thanksgiving,'' Suh said. ``I apologized for it and I will continue to apologize for it. It's something that happened, a mistake that I made. I'm living up to it and I'll continue to move past it. Some people may not, some people will and some people will teeter-totter back and forth depending on whatever the situation is.''

Suh has been fined in previous seasons for roughing up QBs: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Cleveland's Jake Delhomme. He easily cut the checks because he'll make $40 million guaranteed - with a chance to get paid as much as $68 million - in a five-year contract signed after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2010.

Schaub refused to talk about the play - or Suh - after last week's game and declined to say much about it or him again Wednesday. Schaub insisted it didn't matter to him that Suh avoided a suspension and only got a fine.

``Don't really care,'' Schaub said.

Cutler did choose to chime in on the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh, who has ferociously knocked him down multiple times and once finished off a tackle by twisting and ripping his helmet off.

``It seems like he's always in this predicament every five, six, seven games,'' Cutler said. ``You have to be aware of him when he's playing football. He's a tough competitor. He plays hard.

``Sometimes, he goes overboard.''

Delhomme agreed.

In a preseason game two years ago, Suh grabbed Delhomme's face mask, twisted it, wrapped his arms around his helmet and slammed him to the ground.

``What he did to me as a rookie and how he hit Cutler hard earlier this year were just aggressive plays,'' Delhomme told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, adding that he's likely going to stay retired in Louisiana. ``But there's no place in the game for kicking Schaubie like he did or stomping that guy last year on Thanksgiving.''

Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene, who was also regarded as a nasty player in the NFL, told the AP last year that he hoped Suh's reputation wouldn't be tarnished forever for what he did last Thanksgiving.

Greene said then that he wanted to talk to Suh about their shared experiences as interior defensive linemen, and they have connected.

``I spoke to him,'' Suh said softly before answering a slew of questions from reporters following Wednesday's practice.

Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson probably talks to Suh more than anyone else and said his close friend is misunderstood.

``I've heard people call him self-centered and arrogant, but if you take the time to get to know him, you'll see a different side of him and find out that he's a cool guy,'' Jackson said. ``People are going to have perceptions of him because of the way he came into the league with some aggressive plays that nobody saw before.

``But look at a guy like Brodrick Bunkley. He kicked a guy in the head and we don't hear much about that.''

The NFL hasn't suspended Bunkley, a New Orleans defensive tackle, for his boot to the back of San Francisco lineman Alex Boone's helmet in the final minutes of a game Sunday.

Since Suh broke into the league in 2010, when he was the only rookie on the All-Pro team, he leads all defensive linemen with nine personal fouls and is tied for fifth with 19 penalties, according to STATS LLC.

He drew most of those flags in his first two years. His only infraction this season has been one encroachment penalty.

The Lions have already lost more games this year than they did in 2011, and for a second straight season, Suh is falling short of his production as a rookie.

When Detroit was winning or Suh was racking up sacks, he was regarded as a talent. Now that the Lions are losing and he's struggling statistically, Suh's rep compounds his problems.

So what's he thinking?

``I can't really fish into that,'' he said. ``Too much energy to even look at it and digest all that.''

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AP Sports Writers Andrew Seligman in Lake Forest, Ill.; Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio; Kristie Rieken and Chris Duncan in Houston contributed to this story.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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Injuries hit Capitals hard in 3-1 loss to Winnipeg

Injuries hit Capitals hard in 3-1 loss to Winnipeg

The Capitals were already facing one of the toughest back-to-back challenges in the NHL. Then they found out their starting goalie would not play and less than nine minutes into the game lost their No. 1 center. 

That about summed up a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. The last time an NHL team swept a back-to-back set of games against the Jets and Minnesota Wild was 2012. 

Washington played well enough taking a 1-0 lead on a Jakub Vrana goal in the first period and the game was tied until 12:51 of the third period when a shot by Ben Chiarot skipped past goalie Pheonix Copley. The Jets added an empty-net goal to seal the win. 

The loss is one thing. Winnipeg is a tough place to play and maybe the favorite to come out of the Western Conference. But injuries have begun to mount and that’s the big takeaway. 

Holtby showed up to the rink Wednesday morning and it was assumed he’d play after Copley won the game in St. Paul against the Wild. Instead, Holtby was ruled out with an upper-body injury and the Capitals had to sign an emergency goalie – Gavin McHale, a 31-year-old assistant coach for a local women’s college hockey team in Winnipeg. That is less than ideal. 

Holtby’s injury might not be a big deal. You’ll know if Washington recalls top prospect Ilya Samsonov from AHL Hershey for Friday’s game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. 

“That was this morning. [Holtby] came over with our goalie coach and did a skate this morning and was not able to back up tonight or play,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “So he was kind of a game-time decision and he wasn’t able to participate tonight.”

Holtby will be re-evaluated Thursday after he gets continuing treatment for his injury. There has to be concern about Kuznetsov, who took an elbow to the face at 8:52 of the first period from Jets forward Brandon Tanev. Kuznetsov left the game and did not return. 

That left the Caps shorthanded most of the night with Lars Eller playing center alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson on the top line. Ovechkin ended up playing 24:21. Eller played 18:48 and Backstrom 21:41. Not having Kuznetsov would be an issue. He’s not a player they can replace for long. 

“Was more precautionary,” Reirden said. “Obviously a blow to the head. We had to continue to evaluate him tomorrow, but we needed to make sure he didn’t return to the game.”

Washington, of course, could look to last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs when they missed Backstrom for Game 6 during the second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a hand injury and the first three games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

Oshie was the final blow. He was slammed to the ice by Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and the back of his head hit the ice. Reirden compared the play to a hit by Florida Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson on Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson. He was suspended two games on Oct. 15.  

Oshie certainly didn’t look right. He had to stay on the ice as the Caps pushed for the tying goal with the net empty down 2-1. But it took a while for him to get back to his skates and then he wasn’t able to jump on a loose puck in the slot moments before Winnipeg put the game away at the other end of the ice with an empty-net goal. 

The result is one thing for the Capitals (8-7-3), who are still struggling to generate multiple wins in a row. The status of their three key players is more important after a 1-1-0 start to a four-game road trip. 

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Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

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USA Today Sports

Wizards finally experience a blowout win for their side

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Washington Wizards experienced plenty during this largely trying regular season. One aspect missing, being on the all-smiles end of a blowout victory. After Wednesday’s 119-95 rout over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they can now check that box.

“It’s nice to experience that as well,” Tomas Satoransky said.

Washington led from start to finish and by double figures for the final 35 minutes. It set season-highs for points in a quarter (41 in the first), the first half (73) and largest halftime margin (21). The Wizards turned 24 Cavalier turnovers into 29 points. All 13 players scored. 

Quality stretches existed this season, but for minutes, a quarter, maybe a half, but rarely over the full 48. Other than a third-quarter dip when the Cavaliers (2-12) closed within 13 points, the Wizards rolled. The romp meant John Wall only played 21 minutes. None of the starters entered in the fourth quarter. That last part happened in recent games, but this time for positive reasons.

“It was great,” Bradley Beal said of a game “[We were] able to come out and get a lead and be able to sustain it and maintain it throughout the game.”

The Wizards maintained little during the opening 11 games of the regular season other than a downtrodden vibe. Their 5-9 record reflects those struggles. The current three-game winning streak signals growth. The postgame locker room smiles and comments displayed some sense of relief.

“I think we needed that, obviously,” Satoransky said to NBC Sports Washington. The reserve point guard was part of the second quarter surge that saw the Wizards outscore the struggling Cavaliers 20-2 for a 61-34 lead.

“They were on a back-to-back and they haven’t been playing well this year. We felt like with a day off after our last win we could come out aggressively, and just keep it going,” said Satoransky, who had eight points, four assists and three steals in 17 minutes. “Trying to turn the season around.”

The Wizards aren’t naïve enough to think all problems are solved. The three wins came against teams with losing records. Victories over Miami and Orlando included shaky stretches. The big picture hole remains.

“We still have a lot of work to do – we still have to get better,” said Beal, who led Washington with 20 points. “We’re still not content with where we are. We put three [wins] together, but we still have a couple more at home that we have to take care of.”

All of that is true. Numerous gloomy statistics remind the reader of the rough beginnings. Washington entered Wednesday allowing a league-high 118.5 points per game. At least now, the Wizards can contemplate their issues without the weight of the world on their shoulders. For now, the league-wide media will find another target after pillaring the Wizards for weeks. Finally, positive momentum arrived and did so with the Nets, Clippers and Trail Blazers rounding out the homestand.

“I hope we can continue winning,” Satoransky told NBC Sports Washington. “We have three more games at home. I think it’s a good moment for us to turn things around. Brooklyn has been playing well and those two [Western Conference] teams are going to be tough, but I think we’re in a good way now.

“It’s great to experience something like that [blowout]. It helps you mentally. It helped just being able to win three in a row. You can feel it. Whenever you step on the court after that you feel more confident, so that’s good.”

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