DETROIT -- Referee Ed Hochuli said the hit by Ndamukong Suh on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was a "non-football act," which led to a pivotal unnecessary roughness call against the Detroit Lions rookie on Sunday.
The controversial moment came in fourth quarter of the Bears' 24-20 victory with Chicago trailing 20-17. Cutler scrambled on first down and was jolted to the ground by Suh, who appeared to shove the Bears quarterback at his shoulder pads.
Instead of facing a second and 2 from the Detroit 14, the Bears had a first down at the 7. Cutler passed to Brandon Manumaleuna for a 7-yard touchdown pass to take the lead for good with 8:39 left.
Replays appeared to show Suh legally hit Cutler in the upper back, however, Hochuli felt otherwise when interviewed by a pool reporter following the game.
"I felt it was an unnecessary non-football act -- a blow to the back of the runner's helmet in the process of him going down," Hochuli told the reporter. "When you tackle people, you come in and you wrap up and come with your arms and things like that. I felt he delivered a blow to the back of the runner that happened to be the quarterback. That's why I was down there following it. He's my responsibility."
Not surprisingly, Bears coach Lovie Smith agreed with the call.
"I saw exactly what you saw," Smith said. "I saw him get hit in the back of the head, and I thought he did a good job of calling it. I saw it exactly the way the officials did. It should have been a penalty and it was."
Suh saw it differently.
"I really don't care what he called or if it was a penalty or not," Suh said. "I'm just going out there to make a play."
Several Bears defenders, including middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, have been extremely critical of the NFL cracking down on illegal hits.
"I didn't see it, all I saw was the referee throw the flag," Urlacher said with a grin. "Got to protect those quarterbacks you know. They must have saw it was a quarterback and threw the flag. It's a judgment [call], and they are going to do what they are going to do. I'm just glad it worked out for us."
Said defensive end Julius Peppers: "I take caution when it's a quarterback running out of the pocket. You want to be aggressive, but you also need to be smart."
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.