It's almost as amazing an achievement as what the final defenses on our countdown accomplished. But back to the 1971 Colts. The secondary of Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle and Dawan Landry combined for 19 of the Ravens' 28 interceptions. Unless you are a Bears fan over 50, you probably could not name the team's quarterback given 50 guesses. You probably know that AFL passing statistics can get a little kooky, and they can take interception and sack totals with them. The new identity suited the franchise and pointed the way toward the post-Manning era for the Broncos. Woodley and Harrison made their mark in a wild Super Bowl, Woodley with a pair of sacks, Harrison with one of the most memorable pick-sixes in football history. The exceptions are the three columns marked NON-ADJUSTED. This page lists DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) for total defenseas well as rushing and passing defense separated. So did many other defenses on this list. Atkins hurdled and caroused his way into the Hall of Fame. As with all of these countdowns, there's a "shadow effect" in place. Dryer, Brooks, Youngblood and Coy Bacon (a star in the early 1970s) had not yet arrived. 2006 NFL Season. The Saints faced a tough Eagles team in the playoffs, their offense committed four turnovers, and nothing would ever be the same again for the Dome Patrol Saints. The average opposing quarterback had a disastrous week every time he faced the Raiders. The current Steelers are still good, but there is no Polamalu at strong safety or Hampton at the heart of the defense. For most other teams, a defense as good as the 2008 Steelers would stick out like a mountain in the franchise almanac. The Saints never won a playoff game in the Dome Patrol era. Deep safety support was a given on every play. Either way, they were almost impossible to score on, even when you count the gimmies at the ends of blowouts.

When they allowed even one touchdown, bad things happened, as the Ravens lost three games by a combined 33-15 score. The Colts reached Super Bowl III with an all-time great team in 1968, only to lose the game to an era-defining upstart: Joe Namath's groovy Jets.

Like the Bears, the Legion of Boom can be brash, outspoken and perhaps a teensy bit arrogant at times. Perhaps this very countdown holds some answers. The Cardinals were in the NFC East back then and fielded some solid teams behind quarterback Neil Lomax, a very good quarterback in his prime. Super Bowl XLVIII started out with a safety, then got out of hand. A Ravens game turning into a messy field goal contest? Statistical analysis reveals that the Bears defense was actually better in 2005, when the team won 11 games but lost to the Panthers in the postseason. Young Mike Ditka was the only star on offense. But even though they left devastation in their wake, they still made their mark all over the map. As Marshall liked to say, the Vikings knew they were going to win the game anyway. The 2006 team looked capable of doing much more. Sometimes a "gimmick" is really a breakthrough that's just waiting for the right time and the right people to make it a phenomenon. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance). The Bears defense tore down the NFL… Pick the 2006 defense over the 2005 unit if you'd like. But even Belichick would never again coach defensive personnel this great. The impact is felt beyond generations. Visit ESPN to view 2020 NFL team stats. Tittle's Giants to just 191 yards in the game) and 3-0 scores. The Jets played in back-to-back AFC championships less than a decade ago, beating Carson Palmer's Bengals and Philip Rivers' Chargers in 2009 and Peyton Manning's Colts and Tom Brady's Patriots in 2010 playoff games. But if the quarterbacks who were propped up by their defenses held a parade, Dilfer would be the Grand Marshall. In 2002, it instilled a new kind of fear in offenses. Simeon Rice: split too wide for any left tackle's comfort.

Greenwood and others. Rickey Jackson was already the defense's only real star. In 1968, the Rams finished 10-3-1, but the Colts fielded an all-time great team and went 13-1.

Randall Cunningham suffered an ACL tear in the first half of the first game of the season.

The Cowboys were 6-2 entering that game but finished the year 7-9. It's just that the modern Patriots lack something most of the historic defenses on this list had to cope with: lousy quarterbacking.

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