IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys were without the added worry of Ndamukong Suh for all of about 24 hours, it turns out.
Roughly 24 hours after the NFL suspended Suh for stepping on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Suh won his appeal for reinstatement on Tuesday. The league overturned the one-game suspension and instead levied a $70,000 fine on the Pro Bowler.
This all stems from an incident in the fourth quarter of Detroit's 30-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday night – the loss that slotted the Lions into this weekend's wildcard game against Dallas. While stepping backward, Suh planted his foot on Rodgers' injured calf in a move the league declared to be malicious on Monday. That decision was overturned at Suh's appeal.
"I didn't understand that. You've got to play the right way," said Jeremy Mincey on Tuesday evening. "I'm not knocking him. I love his intensity – I love how hard he plays. It comes to a point where you've got to think before you react, and sometimes that happens."
Suh's presence at defensive tackle is huge for the Lions' second-ranked defense, particularly against DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys' vaunted ground game. With Suh manning the middle of the line, Detroit is allowing just 69.3 rushing yards per game – best in the league.
The three-time All-Pro has also notched 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss this season.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday that his team was more focused with its own issues – whether Suh was available or not. Ronald Leary, one of the three interior linemen tasked with blocking him, agreed with that sentiment upon hearing of Suh's reinstatement.
"We don't worry too much about that. We heard about it, but we're just game planning – whether he's in or out. We just game plan," Leary said.
Pressed to elaborate about facing one of the league's better defensive tackles, Leary said he wasn't concerned with overanalyzing the matchup.
"He's a good player, we respect him. But we are professionals, and we're all ball players – so we can play ball on Sunday," he said.
Leary and Co. faced Suh last season in Detroit, and they were able to minimize his impact for the most part. During the Lions' eventual 31-30 comeback win, Suh notched one tackle and one quarterback hit – but no sacks.
There's no denying what Suh's presence means to the Detroit defensive front, though. With Suh on the field this season, the Lions are allowing just 2.8 yards per rush, as opposed to 4.12 yards when he is off the field.
Only two teams – the Jets and Packers – have rushed for 100 or more yards against the Lions this season. Eddie Lacy became the first single player to rush for 100 yards against Detroit this year, when he rushed for exactly 100 in Week 17.
That presents quite the matchup for Sunday, as Suh will be on hand to face the Dallas offensive line and Murray, who has eclipsed 100 yards in 12 of 16 games.
"I'm sure the offense is scheming up something good for them, and we've got to get in his head and get him a little frustrated," Mincey said. "We've got tough guys, too. Nobody is backing down because Suh is playing."