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updated: 11/19/2010 12:33 AM

Peppers spices up defense with trio of sacks

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  • The Bears' Julius Peppers (90) and Henry Melton chase Dolphins quarterback Tyler Thigpen on Thursday. The Bears sacked Thigpen six times.

      The Bears' Julius Peppers (90) and Henry Melton chase Dolphins quarterback Tyler Thigpen on Thursday. The Bears sacked Thigpen six times.
    Associated Press

 
By Gene Chamberlain

MIAMI -- It had been five games since defensive end Julius Peppers recorded a sack.

But no one on the Bears really seemed to care while the defense kept heat on quarterbacks and surged to fourth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed.

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On Thursday night, Peppers' drought came to an end and the defensive front dominated in a 16-0 victory over the quarterback-deficient Miami Dolphins, a win that finally did include quite a few sacks.

The Bears recorded a season-high 6 sacks, and Peppers had 3 to raise his season total to 5.

"They're still overrated," Peppers said about sacks. "It's just nice to get them. It's nice to get a couple in a game, but it's even nicer to have that win."

Peppers' drought officially ended with 1:25 left in the first half when he tracked down Dolphins quarterback Tyler Thigpen from behind for a 1-yard loss as he rolled out of the pocket looking for a receiver.

Peppers matched his season total by tackling Thigpen with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter, then got sack No. 3 in the final minutes.

Peppers hasn't talked much about his lack of sacks, instead deferring such questions to discuss playing his part in a defensive scheme that has been dominant as a unit.

He did again after the game.

"I feel like I'm doing my part," Peppers said.

"Overall, like I've said, I've been pleased with how I've been playing.

"I feel like people's opinions might change, or if people haven't been seeing me play, they might look at the number (of sacks) and feel like I'm playing well now or better than I was before. But that's not the story. The story is I just happened to get a couple sacks tonight. I feel like I played tonight like I've been playing all year."

The defense turned loose an array of stunts from defensive linemen, and linebacker Brian Urlacher joined the fun with his second sack of the year. Besides Peppers and Urlacher, Israel Idonije and Henry Melton also picked up sacks, the second straight week Melton had a sack.

"We've been pleased with our pass rush," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "You want the sacks, but when we get off the field on a third-down conversion and the quarterback gets rid of the ball, that's just like a sack to us. Our guys realize that.

"As far as the defensive line, they're not really into a lot of that. They just keep coming. It's still good tonight for them to get sacks to validate what they've been doing. I thought the guys had constant pressure throughout."

Prior to Thursday, the defense hadn't shut out an opponent since Nov. 19, 2006, when the Bears blanked the New York Jets 10-0 in the Meadowlands. That's the type of statistic that matters far more to players like Peppers and Urlacher than sack totals.

"We're winning games," Urlacher said. "I don't care what people think we are or what we are, we're winning games."

"The stats haven't mattered," said Idonije, who has a team-high 6 sacks this season. "Making plays always feels good.

"I know as rush men, you've got to get sacks, you've got to get sacks. We've been getting a lot of pressures and pressures turn into interceptions and different things."

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