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Sunday, October 19, 2008
Panthers' Peppers finally dominant

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

 
 Paul Abell/US Presswire
 Julius Peppers had a sack and a forced fumble Sunday against the Saints.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Observations from Carolina's 30-7 victory over New Orleans:

Peppers was the best player on the field, which is exactly what you need to be if you want to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. Maybe not all the time, but at least part of the time.

What Peppers did against the Saints could make a lot of people forget he's been silent for most of the last year and a half. Peppers set up Carolina's first touchdown when he punched the ball out of the hands of New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey in the second quarter. Peppers used his quickness to run down Shockey and force the fumble.

Peppers also had a first-quarter sack and put the pressure on quarterback Drew Brees several other times. Brees had been playing like a most valuable player candidate through the first six weeks. On Sunday, he looked very ordinary.

That was mostly because of Peppers. He dominated left tackle Jammal Brown and threw the Saints off their game plan.

"Pep had a great game," defensive tackle Damione Lewis said. "He was constantly getting to the quarterback. He was unbelievable."

Yes, it was only one game, but it was a reminder of what Peppers is capable of doing.

If Peppers can do that a few more times, he'll have a big payday coming.

Corners Ken Lucas, Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall might be the best trio in the league. Godfrey did well, except for one play, and has been solid all season. He and strong safety Chris Harris have the potential to become a very good safety tandem. No doubt Carolina's defense was the key to this victory. But give some of the credit to the Panthers' offense for slowing Brees. The Panthers ran 37 times and passed it 22 times while holding the ball for 33:01.

The trip could provide more than the expected logistical challenges. Bush and center Jonathan Goodwin each left the game. If either player is going to be out for an extended period, the Saints may have to sign a player or two and get them to London on very short notice.