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Monday, 27 January, 2003, 13:31 GMT
Gridiron's greatest defences
Tampa Bay Buccaneers stormed to a convincing 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders to become surprise winners of Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Raiders' highly-rated offence was simply overpowered by one of the finest defensive displays in Super Bowl history.
But where does the Bucs defence rank in comparison with the likes of the Pittsburgh Steeler and Minnesota Viking defences of yesteryear?
BBC Sport Online rates the greatest defences in history and asks which is the best ever?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
A class apart for an entire decade, the "Steel Curtain" defence had an unprecedented effect on the way NFL teams defend.
Equally strong against pass and run, the defence was the cornerstone of Pittsburgh's golden era in the 1970s.
A haul of four Super Bowl victories between 1975 and 1980 speaks for itself - the NFL has not seen a more dominant defensive unit.
2. Baltimore Ravens
In the 2001 Super Bowl, the Ravens' fearsome defence utterly squeezed the life out of the New York Giants in a 34-7 rout.
Under the guidance of head coach Brian Billick, the team claimed a series of defensive records en route to victory.
The Ray Lewis-led Ravens went 50 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, and in the 2000-2001 season they became the first team since 1978 to allow fewer than 1,000 rushing yards in a regular season and set the record for fewest points conceded (165).
3. Minnesota Vikings
Known as the "Purple People Eaters", the Vikings defensive line punished rivals throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Such was their confidence in halting their opponents' every offensive move, they became famous for the phrase "let's meet at the quarterback".
A perfect mix of speed and power, they created immense pressure by surging through the middle of the offensive line.
4. Chicago Bears
The arrival of Dallas Cowboys assistant Mike Ditka started a new era in the game which climaxed in the 46-10 destruction of the New England Patriots in 1986.
While running back Walter Payton was crucial to the Bears' offensive success, the team's miserly defence, known as the Monsters of Midway, helped ensure a 12-game winning streak to start the season.
Relying on a high-risk strategy of blitzing linebackers and safeties, the "46" defence put an unprecedented amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before coach Jon Gruden arrived, the Buccaneers boasted a sound defence.
But with Gruden on board, the Bucs reached a new level on the defensive side of the ball, best seen in their destruction of the Raiders in 2003.
The Bucs' defensive record is all the more impressive when you consider that only Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks can count themselves among the league's leading lights.
6. Denver Broncos
Known as the "Orange Crush", Denver's defensive prowess gradually emerged from 1973, when the team recorded their first winning season.
The star of the show for the Broncos was Randy Grandishar, a tireless tackler.
Despite being part of an undersized defence, Grandishar and his fellow Denver defenders flourished due to their speed and to the fact that they remained together for so long.
The 1985 Chicago Bears defence was the best defence the NFL has ever seen. Two play-off shutouts and an almost shutout in the Super Bowl has yet to be matched.
You cannot leave out the two Dallas Cowboys teams which together played in eight Super Bowls, winning five of them. The Doomsday Defense of the 70s and the unit of the mid-90s were surely among the best ever.
The Bucs are by far the best defence ever to play in the NFL when you look at the speed of the unit as a whole nobody can compare. From Brooks to Sapp to Lynch to Barber there is just pure speed and speed beats size as you saw in the superbowl.
I think that we have just witnessed the most dominant defence of all time in the Bucs. Although the '85 Bears and '01 Ravens were monsters, neither were faced with the sort of an offense that Oakland trotted out yesterday. The Bucs win handily.
Your rankings leave little to contend against. However every true football fan must have winced when you left out the name of their ferocious linebacker Jack Lambert when mentioning the bright lights of the Steel Curtain defence.
I would add the '91 Eagles who managed to take the team to 10-6 with no offense to speak of.
Because they were overshadowed by the performance of their glamorous offensive units, the defences of the San Francisco 49ers of the mid-80s and the Green Bay Packers of the 96/97 season are often overlooked.
Those rankings were accurate except the '85 Bears should be ranked at least second with the Ravens and Vikings pushed down a spot. Buddy Ryan's 46 defence was as brutal and just as feared as those Steel Curtain units.
Dallas' epoch defining side of the 1990s must be up there too. Perhaps not the greatest of all time, but a very good unit that worked on the weaknesses of their opponents and cherished the chance to smash those offences with rising reputations.
I wonder why a perfect season would not merit a spot on your greatest defences list. Put me down for the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
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