Idonije relishes another crack at big game

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:54 PM ET

CHICAGO — With experience comes perspective.

So, at age 30 and at the top of his game, Israel Idonije is very much enjoying the moment.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Brandon, Manitoba native, who has enjoyed an excellent season as the Chicago Bears left defensive end, is relishing the prospect of participating in his second NFC Championship game on Sunday when the Bears take on the Green Bay Packers.

“It’s a big game, eight years (in the league), my second time to play on this stage, it’s time to focus, to turn up the intensity and just do my job,” Idonije said Friday. “I think we have a better understanding of how important it is to sacrifice, work hard and focus, do all the things and whatever is necessary to win this game. After that ’06 season, we thought we’d be back and it just doesn’t happen like that.”

In 2006, the Bears downed the New Orleans Saints 39-14 in the NFC Championship but couldn’t go all the way as they were beat 29-17 in the Super Bowl by the Indianapolis Colts.

This season, they’ve been a bit of a surprise to the pundits who didn’t see a playoff berth in the making. They didn’t look like much of a team through the opening seven weeks when they went 4-3, but then following their bye week (Week 8), they took off and won seven of their next eight before dropping the season finale 10-3 to the Packers.

For Idonije, being an overachiever makes the season that much sweeter.

“I think it’s the best, I like flying under the radar, being the underdog,” he said. “It’s a great role. It has served us well as a team.”

On a personal level, 2010 has been his best season by far.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“He’s had a great season,” veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher said of Idonije.

“We kind of questioned who was going to be our other end besides Pep with Alex (Brown) and Wale (Ogunleye) gone. It was between Izzy (Israel Idonije) and Mark (Anderson) and Izzy kind of took over that job and he’s run with it and had a great season, not only in the pass game, but the run game as well.”

Now it’s up to the Bears to make the most of what fate has brought them.

“Where we are right now, this has been our goal since the start of the season,” Idonije said. “We’re in the right place at the right time and our destiny is in our hands.”


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