More fuel for the fire

For some reason, star defensive ends with difficult to pronounce surnames seem to enjoy trash-talking the Carolina Panthers. For the second time in as many weeks, the Panthers were given some bulletin-board material from their upcoming opponent.

This week it's Chicago Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who told Bears beat reporters on Monday that the Panthers were over-hyped entering their first meeting in November and he thinks they're getting a little too much praise heading into Sunday's divisional game at Soldier Field.

"You know they had all the hype coming into the game and we felt they didn't deserve it," Ogunleye said. "And I think again, (they have) a lot more hype than they should, and we're going to continue to play as hard as we can. I'm not downplaying the Carolina Panthers, but I'm up-playing us."

Ogunleye and the Bears dominated Carolina 13-3 on Nov. 20 at Soldier Field. He was part of a defensive line that sacked Jake Delhomme eight times in the Bears win.

Safety Mike Brown later said, "We know we can beat them. They think they can beats us, be we know we can beat them."

Last week, New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora provided added incentive for the Panthers when he said New York has the best pair of defensive ends in the league, even better than Carolina's Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker.

In the end, it was Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers who got the last laugh.

"I think the score says enough for itself," Rucker said of Carolina's 23-0 win over the Giants. "This is a team game. It's about stopping the run and it's about getting pressure and it's about getting shutouts. That's what it's all about to be honest with you."

And while you can argue that Umenyiora and Strahan may have won the battle (they combined for three sacks on Sunday), Peppers and Rucker (who combined for one sack and one fumble recovery) clearly won the war as the Panthers limited the Giants to 132 total yards and no points.

Rucker said he thinks Umenyiora was just having a little fun.

"He was playing around," Rucker said. "But like I said, it's about a team. We're a defense that is together and an offense that is together and a special teams that is together. That's what it's about. It's about doing what we did today, not letting them eat.

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