Peppers, Bears hardly sack-happy this season
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning eludes Chicago Bears defensive ends Corey Wootton, left, and Julius Peppers in Thursday's game. The Bears defense recorded only 1 sack.
JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer
The press box statistics did not include a mention of Julius Peppers in any categories Thursday night, and the eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end has just 1 sack this season.
Peppers led the Bears with 11½ sacks last season and has reached double digits in four of the previous five seasons and eight of his 11 in the league. As a team, the Bears have just 8 sacks all season.
"I can't speak for previous years," coach Marc Trestman said of Peppers' lack of production. "I know that it's not just one guy. It's a combination of rushes and people inside and moving people around and how stunts are put together.
"It's about us collectively continuing to find ways to get a pass rush going. We got close (Thursday night), and Julius got close a couple times, too. We just didn't get close enough. We got close enough to redirect Eli (Manning) a couple times and push him out of the pocket. We just didn't hit him."
A sideline shouting match between return specialist Devin Hester and kicker Robbie Gould was captured on national television during Thursday night's game but downplayed by both combatants afterward.
The exchange occurred after Gould's short kickoff was returned 46 yards late in the second quarter after the Bears' third touchdown.
"I don't want to put my teammates in a position where I hit a bad kickoff like I did," Gould said. "It was just my emotions got in the way. I was at fault. I was the wrong party in that. I love him like a brother. Once it was over, it was over.
"Devin got a record tonight; I got a record tonight. I'm really not worried about it. It was over after it happened."
Hester became the Bears' career leader in kickoff-return yardage with 4,621, passing Glyn Milburn, who had 4,596 yards from 1998-2000. Gould tied the NFL record with his 12th straight field goals of 50 yards or more. The Vikings' Blair Walsh has also hit 12 straight.
"It was just an altercation," Hester said. "We were just firing each other up. It's the heat of the moment, and we're both competitive guys. He's my brother."
Through six games the Bears have 190 passing plays (including 9 sacks) and 128 running plays, an almost identical ratio compared to the league as a whole.
The numbers don't matter much to coach Marc Trestman.
"I've never talked about balance," Trestman said. "I don't think it's significant. I think what's most important — I've said it from the beginning — is scoring touchdowns and moving the football.
"If it is (balanced), that's great. We have a guy (Matt Forte) who we feel good about running the football. We've felt our line is good run-blocking. But I've never felt run-pass ratio was necessarily the most important thing."
The 29 rushing attempts Thursday night were a season high. Starting with the season opener, the Bears had 28, 27, 28, 16 and 18 rushing attempts the first five weeks.
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