This game may go quickly, as both teams are content to run. For one side, the one with Julius Peppers, it may be enough.
The Bears raced to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter, a dream scenario for the return of the native son.
The Bears took advantage early, with Danieal Manning's 62-yard return on the opening kickoff setting up a quick touchdown.
The third of Matt Forte's runs on the four-play drive covered 18 yards for the score. They did mix it up with that one 5-yard pass from Todd Collins to Devin Hester, but it's clear they aren't going to take many chances with their backup QB.
The Panthers made their emphasis known on their first drive, rushing eight times and throwing no passes (including on third-and-6 from the Bears 8), setting up a John Kasay field goal to cut the gap to 7-3.
The Bears answered with a one-play, 68-yard drive, as Forte popped through the line cleanly (thanks to an over-aggressive Charles Godfrey) and went untouched for the touchdown and the 14-3 lead.
Julius Peppers got a mixed reaction when he came through the tunnel, but was booed heavily when he made his first tackle.
Then he gave the crowd a big "shhhhh" sign after making one of those plays that only he can make.
He tipped a Jimmy Clausen pass at the line of scrimmage, and then made a diving interception. Clearly, he's motivated to play today.
That one set up a Robbie Gould field goal for a 17-3 lead with 4:37 left in the first.
Then came the 50-yard punt return by Devin Hester, but that set up only the lone bright spot of the half for the Panthers.
Todd Collins threw a third-and-goal from the 1 pass right to Panthers DT Ed Johnson. It wasn't much, but it was the only thing to latch onto.
-- Darin Gantt