Defense wins championships. If that weren’t true, then Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino would all be wearing championship rings. There is a big difference between a good defense and a great defense. A great defense puts the team on its shoulders and drags it – kicking and screaming – to success. In the past, we have all seen lists with the top 5 or top 10 defenses of all time. There are only three that stand out above the rest. Here are the top 3 defenses of all time.
The Top 3 Defenses of All Time
3. The 1985 Chicago Bears
The Bears had a defense that was innovative and so intimidating, they made you forget that Walter Payton was going to run all over you. The Bears went 15-1 on their way to a Super Bowl victory against a sorely outmatched Tony Eason and the New England Patriots. The Bears D gave up 12.4 points per game over the course of the season and had the number one turnover-producing defense in the NFL that year. Although the Bears were very good at stopping the run, they dominated against the pass. This defense had five players with four or more interceptions, and the team sacked the quarterback 64 times. Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was a defensive genius who was way ahead of his time.
2. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens drug a very bad offense – led by Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer – to the promised land, kicking and screaming. The quarterback tandem threw for a combined 3080 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. These are hardly numbers that would make a defensive coordinator pace the floor at night. However, Ray Lewis and company allowed less than 11 points a game and allowed only 970 yards rushing all year. The Ravens finished 12-4 and destroyed offenses on their way to the Super Bowl title.
1. 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers are not the sexy pick for the most dominant defense of all time. After all, they weren’t as exotic as the ’85 Bears, nor was there nearly as much media coverage for the ’76 Steelers as there was for the 2000 Ravens. Numbers don’t lie, and the biggest numbers involved in this discussion are 4, 9.9, 3323, and 22. First, there were four Hall of Fame Players on this defense. Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, Jack Hamm, and Joe Greene were on the field together. As a team, this defense allowed 9.9 points per game. To hold teams to less than a touchdown and a field goal every game for an entire season is just amazing. Through the season, the Steel Curtain allowed only 3323 yards. Over the course of a 14-game season, that is a little more than 237 yards per game. Finally, the most impressive number is 22. Over the last 8 games of the season, this Steelers defense allowed 22 points. That’s less than 3 points per game. That is dominant.
The have been other really good defenses, like the 86 Giants, the Purple People Eaters and the Legion of Boom, but these three defenses stand well above even those. I can’t wait to hear what other defenses you think should be on the list.
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