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Cory's Corner: Julius Peppers gets game-winning assist

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Cory's Corner: Julius Peppers gets game-winning assist

Nothing was working.

The Packers had 7 yards in the first quarter. They also had notable injuries in Jordy Nelson, Ty Montgomery and Blake Martinez.

The Green Bay struggle this season has been real. The Packers have crested the mountain of poor play with a 4-6 record and have seen a starting cornerback and running back suffer season-ending injuries. That’s in addition to Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb, who have started a combined 19 regular season games this year.

So whom does this team lean to? None other than 15-year veteran Julius Peppers.

The game turned late in the second quarter with the Giants up 6-0. Jake Schum had a nice pitching wedge 37-yard punt that pinned New York inside its own 10. Three plays later, Peppers made the pivotal play of the game with a sack on Eli Manning setting up a fourth-and-14.

The guy that turns 37 next week made folks inside Lambeau Field believers. Up to that point, the Packers weren’t getting Manning off of his spot, forcing him to make the tough throw. Granted, on paper, teams should be eating this defense alive. It doesn’t have a true cover corner, the pass rush has been iffy and the unit’s highest-paid player has been sidelined with shoulder and hamstring injuries.

“It’s a special group,” Peppers said with a smile. “We stand tall in the face of adversity. We trust and believe in one another and this is a great group of guys to be around.”

The Packers got 14 quick points to close out the half — including a memorable Hail Mary — before running over the Giants 38-13. But Peppers wasn’t finished with that sack. He closed his evening with three quarterback hurries, one batted ball, two passes defended and three tackles. That’s a heck of a ballgame. Most Pro Bowlers would take a stat line like that.

Peppers has been irked by seeing his snaps get limited this season. But just like Gregg Popovich that routinely sits his stars, Dom Capers knew he needed a fresh Peppers if this team was going to make a deep postseason run.

And on Sunday, he proved it. Yeah, it may be tough to watch in October and November, but Peppers knew that this was likely his final playoff game at Lambeau. If you cannot get up for that game, you shouldn’t be playing.

The game was won with the right arm of Aaron Rodgers. But it was the heart of Peppers that got the game-winning assist.



Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

The plays Peppers has made this year have come mostly at really key moments, usually when the Packers need them most.
Without sounding like a total "Homer" I have a good feeling about this team, even without Nelson. Peppers needs to play like he did in the 2014 playoffs against the Cowboys. He's had a knack of making big plays when the Packers seem to need them the most this season, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if he made a few more on Sunday. Matter of fact I expect it.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

Reminds me of Reggie White. He always came up big right when we needed it.

chugwater's picture

The strip of Demarco Murray in 2014 was key. If Peppers doesn't make that play, Murray gets a TD and we most certainly lose.

This game on Sunday will come down to turnovers. Whoever protects the ball gets the W.

Savage57's picture

I'm probably going to get skewered for this opinion, but Sunday's strip sack and fumble recovery notwithstanding, Clay Matthews has been invisible a lot this season. Yeah, I know, 'injuries'. But availability is a big part of the value and productivity equation, and Matthews is injured A LOT.

For the money the Packers are paying Matthews, you'd hope they find half that amount to pay Peppers for another season of equal, if not superior production.

dobber's picture

I think the argument with Matthews is that when he plays outside, he gets hurt. He didn't miss a game when he was playing ILB. So do you move #52 inside on a full-time basis and have a grossly overpaid ILB who's available or do you leave him outside where his salary fits the general market and have a guy who's playing hurt most of the time?

stockholder's picture

I would keep Mathews inside this game. His big frame is the only thing that can push elliott back. Forget thomas. This team needs Mathews in the middle this game.

croatpackfan's picture

Finally something that sounds reasonable from you. I tend to agree. Place Clay inside with Jack Ryan - Blake is injured and Thomas is not 100% healthy... Or mix Clay inside/outside. That will bring headache to Dallas DC...

LayingTheLawe's picture

There is no doubt it seems like Matthews is always hurt. Even when he is playing he is battling some sort of soft tissue injury usually.

MrFitz66's picture

Excellent observation on how important that play was. I think all of us were worried by the lack of pressure up until that point. I think we are very lucky to have Peppers. He gets big money for making big plays and he is worth every penny. The fact we stole him from the Bears has given me years of satisfaction. However, I disagree with the "he knew this was likely his last playoff game" angle to an otherwise excellent article. He is thinking Super Bowl, nothing else, is my guess. I see no reason to not resign him for the same $ or even a small raise for a year or two. He is a special player who has the ability to make that one play when needed most. Countless OLB have tried to fill that spot opposite Matthews. None are as good as Peppers at 37, 38 or maybe even 39? Keep Peppers, no brainer.

pacman's picture

Peppers performed. So did a lot of others. But this team lives on AR's arm. When he is this hot, Packers will score lots of points. Manning was off on Sunday and it would have been a different game if he was on. It was scary to see AR revert back to bad play in the first half. Whatever or whoever changed that - we can't do that against the Cowboys. Somehow, Jordy got back in sync with AR - finding the opening, running in when AR was scrambling, etc. I don't know if anyone can replace that but between Cobbs, Adams, Geronimo, Cook - AR has enough trusted targets. If Capers can stop the Cowboys, he should get the MVP. I don't think we've seen nearly as many forced fumbles as we used to. Maybe we need to punch that ball a bit on Sunday.

Jersey Al's picture

All season, I had to remind myself why Peppers was still on this team. You saw it yesterday. He makes big plays in big games.

Denise Chanterelle's picture

Peppers was worth every single dime of the 3 year contract. He's made big plays for us in each season when we really needed it, and last Sunday was no exception. I suspect he will do the same this Sunday at some point during the game. He just knows how to do it. Great veteran presence on the D. Go Pack.

Point Packer's picture

Just re-watched the Wild Card game. One hell of of a game from Peppers. Above his on the field play, was constantly roaming the sidelines pumping up his teammates. Dude wants a ring bad.

Handsback's picture

Unlike every other game that Green Bay could play in this playoff series, the Cowboy's running game will present their most significant challange. Their QB, while a rookie, doesn't make many mistakes. He keeps the chains moving and Zek just runs with determination and power. That Oline opens holes and Zek is never touched until he's 4-5 yards downfield. That will be hard to stop and that is where Peppers will come into play. Lose the trench battle and go home. Win it and know that no other team will punish you like the Cowboys can. You took the best shot and survived.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Peppers needs to improve his run defense, which hasn't been great lately. I suggest moving CM3 to ILB next to Ryan, in part because Joe Thomas and Blake both seem hindered by injuries, and because CM3 is better against the run anyway. That allows us to start Perry and Peppers at OLB, with Jones rotating in. It would be nice to get something out of Fackrell and/or Elliott. BTW, I rather like Lowry at DE some. Elsewhere I've seen authors suggesting that Daniels, Guion and Clark give us enough beef on the line. I think that is reasonable, but I think Lowry can rotate in for 15 to 20 snaps.

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