Bears rookie Long gets quite an education facing Suh
By Rich Campbell, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:43 pm, September 29, 2013
DETROIT — Kyle Long sat at his locker, still wearing his jersey, shoulder pads and game pants, more than 20 minutes after the Bears' 40-32 loss to the Lions was complete. As his teammates dressed and packed for the short flight home, the rookie tried to process his rugged matchup with Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
"You prepare like you're trying to stop a train that's got some momentum," Long said, "and that's what he feels like."
Long wasn't totally run over, but he wasn't Superman.
Suh had two sacks and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Nick Fairley returned 4 yards for a touchdown. Long also committed a costly illegal use of the hands penalty while blocking Suh in the third quarter.
For the Bears' first-round draft pick, blocking one of the NFL's most powerful and explosive defenders was a major challenge.
"That's a grown man that I played against today, that we all played against today," Long said.
He blocked Suh one-on-one at times. Center Roberto Garza helped him at others. Suh didn't always win, but he won enough to significantly hinder a Bears offense that sputtered during the second and third quarters.
Whatever impression Long made on him, Suh did not share.
"I didn't have any thoughts," Suh said. "Really, just, I wanted to affect the quarterback and affect the running back and not allow them to be successful."
Long emerged with successes and failures to build upon.
On Matt Forte's 53-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Suh came off the ball upright. Long stayed low and swung his hips to seal Suh inside. That helped Forte to scamper around the edge.
Suh responded late in the quarter with the first of his two sacks. On third-and-4, he kept his pads lower than Long's.
"He got under me initially," Long said. "I just tried to kick my feet back and sink my hips, but he beat me."
Long tried to twist Suh to the right, but Suh fell into quarterback Jay Cutler's leg.
"I didn't know where Jay was, so that's on me," Long said.
The Bears trailed 30-16 in the third quarter and faced third-and-8 when Long illegally blocked Suh in the head. Long appeared to shove his left hand into Suh's face and neck. It negated a completion that converted the first down, and Cutler threw an interception on the next play.
Suh made his biggest play on the next series. On third-and-10, Long initially blocked Suh with a one-handed punch to the chest. Suh, however, then looped to the left around defensive end Willie Young. No one on the Bears line adjusted to block Suh. Long was pinned inside, and Cutler held the ball long enough for Suh to sack and strip him.
Cutler blamed himself for not throwing the ball in accordance with the three-step drop included in the play call. "That's on me," he said.
Afterward, Long at least appreciated the challenge. He's eager for another matchup against Suh when the teams play in Chicago on Nov. 10
"To get to play against a guy like that, a front like that, you definitely can learn a lot from that even in a loss," Long said. "We'll get to see those guys again, so we'll just battle back."