10 most dominant defenses in NFL history
The 1985 Bears are one of the best defenses in NFL history, but they are not the only ones in the conversation. The Steel Curtain, The Purple People Eaters, The Legion of Boom, these are just a few of the squads that make up our list of Best defenses in NFL history.
No. 10: 1986 New York Giants
With a young Bill Belichick as their defensive coordinator, and Lawrence Taylor roaming the middle of the field, the '86 Giants defense was a force to be reckoned with. They led the league in rushing defense, and sacked the quarterback 55 times. They allowed just 3 points in both the NFC Divisional and Championship games, before going on to win Super Bowl XXI. LT was an easy choice for MVP that season.
No. 9: 1962 Green Bay Packers
The '62 Packers defensive unit contained five Hall of Famers and was a big part of Green Bay's dominance that decade. In the '62 season, they led the league in takeaways (50), points against (148) and passing yards (1746). In the NFL Championship game, they didn't allow the Giants' offense to score a touchdown, winning 16-7 (the Giants' lone touchdown came on a blocked punt recovered in the endzone).
No. 8: 2015 Denver Broncos
The 2015 Broncos defense is the reason Peyton Manning was able to retire with another Super Bowl win. With a mediocre offense, the defense led the league in total yards allowed (4530), passing yards allowed (3193), and ranked third in rushing yards against (1337). In the Super Bowl, they shut down Cam Newton's Panthers in a 24-10 Broncos win.
No. 7: 1971 Minnesota Vikings
With two Hall of Famers on their defensive line in Carl Eller and Alan Page, it's easy to see why this unit earned the nickname of the "Purple People Eaters". They led the league in points against, averaging just 9.9 per game. There was only one game all season where they gave up more than 20 points. It's no wonder tha Alan Page was named the league's MVP that season.
No. 6: 1991 Philadelphia Eagles
Often referred to as "Gang Green", the '91 Eagles defense led the league in total yards allowed (3549) and takeaways (48). They also were a nightmare for opposing quaterbacks, sacking the QB 55 times that season, as well as giving up an average of just 71 rushing yards per game. While they didn't make the playoffs that year, the '91 defense is the main reason the Eagles were competitive after Randall Cunningham was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
No. 5: 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This team is the genesis of the "Tampa 2" style of defense. Led by Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, the '02 Bucs were first in the league in yards (4044) and points against (196). Even more impressive was their Super Bowl performance, where they picked off Rich Gannon five times, and scored three defensive touchdowns for Tampa's only Lombardi Trophy.
No. 4: 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
Known as the Steel Curtain, the Steelers defense of the 70s dominated the NFL, none more that the '76 squad. They had five shutouts during that seson, three of them in consecutive weeks. They allowed just 9.8 points per game, and led the league in total yards against with just 3,323.
No. 3: 2013 Seattle Seahawks
The Legion of Boom. Led by a secondary comprised of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor, they rightfully earned a spot in our top-10 defenses. The '13 Seahawks ranked first in the NFL in total yards (4378) and passing yards against (2752). Their No. 1 defense took on the league's No. 1 offense, the Denver Broncos, in Super Bowl XLVIII and won in dominating fashion, 43-8.
No. 2: 2000 Baltimore Ravens
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens are the team people point to when they say defense wins championships. Four times that season the Ravens shut out their opponents. They hold the record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season (165), and fewest rushing yards against (970). It's no wonder Ray Lewis was named Defensive Player of the year that season.
No. 1: 1985 Chicago Bears
Any list of top defenses in the NFL's long history is not complete without the Monsters of the Midway near the top. Their 46 defense wreaked havoc on the league all season long. Anchored by Hall of Famers Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, and Mike Singletary, the '85 Bears ranked first in the NFL in total yards, points against, and takeaways.