Why They Won: Green Bay Wins In Oakland

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Dec 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal (96) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) with Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Old Man Peppers

Julius Pepper is a guy who many would have expected to be washed up by now; not that he himself was ever the type of player to expect that from, but age will always eventually bring down all players no matter how talented and determined. Being 35 (and turning 36 in January), he’s definitely on the downside of his career.

Still, he is managing to continue being productive for Green Bay regardless.

In this game, he garnered 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. Those sacks all came in the second half, when Oakland was really starting to find its offensive production before faltering.

The first came on the first drive of the 2nd half (14-13 GB); Oakland was forced to punt. The second sack was on the 4th drive (27-20 GB); this drive also ended as a punt. The half-sack came on Oakland’s next drive (30-20 GB); this drive ended on downs.

With Clay Matthews having to play inside this year, there has been a mostly inconsistent effort from the pass rush. Peppers has really been the singular consistent option out there; he leads the team with 9.5 sacks (Matthews is second on the Packers with 5.5).

On a team that consistently stands as one of the younger squads in the NFL — mostly due to a heavy draft-and-develop philosophy along with a relative avoidance of free agents — Peppers stands as a strong veteran presence, one that continues to produce quality statistics as well as intangible leadership.

Next: The OTs