Five months and two weeks. That is how long it took Terrell Suggs to rehab his Achilles tendon, come back to the NFL, and play lights out football. Since tearing his Achilles tendon in the Spring, Suggs missed out on offseason team activities and training camp, and the first six weeks of practice and games.
When it was rumored that he would play on Sunday, after just several days of practice, the general consensus was that the news was a ruse, a mind game to force Houston to game plan for the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year. When it was reported that Suggs was active for the game, it seemed obvious—and odd—that the team planned on having him on the field for a few snaps. As Suggs warmed up, sprinting and cutting, one had to wonder at his over-eagerness.
Then, something remarkable happened over the course of several hours on a Sunday afternoon. Self-appointed “T-Sizzle” played forty-four snaps, all the way through the fourth quarter, and he played the most explosive, effective football of anyone on the field for the Ravens.
Seven minutes into the game, he notched his first sack. He finished with four tackles, a sack, a deflected pass, and two quarterback hits. He set the edge against the run beautifully, and looked quick and powerful. It is all but inconceivable for a player to step in at rush linebacker with the physical and mental limitations of not having played or practiced football in over five months, and put up such a performance.
BaltimoreRavens.com compiled a list of quotes from analysts around the league regarding Suggs return. Their words speak volumes about the feat accomplished by the tenth-year linebacker.
For example, CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf, was was calling the game for television, said at one point during the game, “I’m not quite sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like this, where with only three practices under his belt, Terrell Suggs is out on the football field. This is nothing short of remarkable.
“I didn’t see this coming,” he continued, “And if you say you did, you are in the minority. I’ve talked to a lot of NFL people and a lot of observers and I don’t think anyone saw him taking this many snaps.”
ESPN's Ashley Fox also expressed disbelief.
“Suggs was unreal,” she wrote, “Seriously, the man is a freak of nature... That was insane.”
Clark Judge, of CBSsports.com, had this to say:
“Every time I watched Terrell Suggs rush Matt Schaub, I wanted to cue Al Michaels' 'Do you believe in miracles?' from the 1980 Olympics. I mean, the guy's playing six months after tearing his Achilles? You gotta be kidding me.”
Suggs now has two weeks to continue getting into “football shape” as the Ravens have the bye week coming up. He'll then head to Cleveland to face the Browns, who have two weeks to ponder their own misfortune at the timing of his improbable return.