GREEN BAY - There will come a day when the game has passed Julius Peppers by. If Monday night's performance against the Packers is any indication, the Bears defensive end is further from that fateful day than some would think.
"He's one of the best defensive players in the game," Packers fullback John Kuhn said. "We don't get caught up when people say he's down or not. He's still a great player and he obviously showed that tonight."
Peppers, who turns 34 in January, played a major role in the Bears 27-20 win in Green Bay. The eight-time Pro Bowler finished the evening with one sack, two pass deflections, a tackle for a loss and an interception.
"It was a check from a run to a smoke screen out to the wide receiver," Peppers said while describing the turnover he forced and snatched out of mid-air. "It was just reaction, instinct."
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Was it a coincidence that Shea McClellin had the best game of his career, three sacks and two tackles for a loss, while Peppers demanded extra attention on the other side of the line? Why were the Bears able to get so much pressure?
"I mean, it's Julius Peppers," Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari said when trying to explain the impact of the veteran defender. "He is a phenomenal defensive end."
Monday's interception was the first for Peppers since December 20, 2010. That pick came off of Brett Favre, in what would end up being the last interception the future Hall-of-Famer would ever throw. Almost three years later, Seneca Wallace was the victim, on just his second pass of the night after being called into to duty for the injured Aaron Rodgers.
"Peppers is a good player and he has been for awhile," Packers offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse said. "He's a gifted athlete."
Time will move on, but Peppers has proven his time hasn't run out quite yet. With eight games remaining in the season, and deadlocked with the Packers and Lions atop the NFC North, the Bears will need all that Peppers has left in the tank. Which appears to be plenty.