Walking the Walk

Lake Forest – Adewale Ogunleye has the resume to say what he wants, but the important thing will be to see if he can backup the smack with his play this Sunday against the Panthers.

Ogunleye had his best game as a Bear against Carolina, when he sacked Jake Delhomme three times. He has plans for a repeat performance this Sunday when the Bears and Panthers square off for a trip to the NFC Title game.

"They know what defense they're facing," Ogunleye said. "To me, it's arguably the best defense in this league, so they know they've got to come in with their hard hats and ready to play against us."

Being named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl may have miffed Ogunleye, who finished with 10 sacks. He went to the Pro Bowl after leading the AFC with 15 sacks in 2003. The one thing Ogunleye is being quiet about is the snub.

"I'm just trying to make it to the Super Bowl," Ogunleye said. "That Pro Bowl stuff is already behind me. I'm not even thinking about that. Hopefully we can end their season early and us continue to move on. That would be the biggest reward for this team."

Carolina defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker faced a similar situation last week. New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora told beat reporters in New York that Peppers and Rucker are "the second-best defensive end tandem in the league."

He called himself and Michael Strahan the best after they combined for 26 sacks and both are headed to the Pro Bowl.

While Umenyiora and Strahan combined for 3 sacks compared to the 1 between Peppers and Rucker, the Panthers won the game with ease and got the last laugh.

Although Ogunleye has never played in a postseason game in his five-year career, the high stakes are obvious.

"They're not facing the same team that they faced five weeks ago and we're not going to be facing the same team attitude-wise," Ogunleye said. "It's the playoffs. Winner takes all. This game is more important than that last game, for both of us. We know it and they know it and we'll see on Sunday."

Bear fans are used to brash defenders, it's just been sometime since one had the confidence to call the other team out. For as quick as many were to compare this defense to the 1985 unit, don't forget the Super Bowl Shuffle was filmed a day after the team's only loss that year.

Ogunleye has set himself up for two scenarios come Sunday night. He will either look like a stud for backing up his words as the Bears move on or a goat for talking prematurely when the franchise hasn't won a playoff game in more than a decade.

"I can't wait to get out there," Ogunleye said. "It's been a long time coming for this city and for this team and (we're) ready to get this train continuing to move forward."

One has to wonder if the Bears win, will Ogunleye continue to talk or does Carolina just bring out something in the usually cerebral defensive end.

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