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Monday, 27 January, 2003, 05:03 GMT
Do the Bucs have the best-ever defence?
The Vince Lombardi trophy, given to the winners of the Super Bowl
An explosive defensive effort unhinges Oakland to hand Tampa Bay their first-ever Super Bowl victory.

But can the Bucs boast the best defence ever to play in the NFL?

Have your say

The Buccaneers defence is the hardest hitting and most destructive to be seen in the NFL for quite some time.

Led by the likes of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Simeon Rice, it has stifled every team it has come across in this year's playoffs.

And even NFL MVP Rich Gannon and the free-scoring Raiders found no way past it at Super Bowl XXXVII.

So does the Bucs defence now stand comparison to Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" of the 1970s?


This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.


As a young NFL fan I have to say that the Ravens D is the best that I've seen. Remember, the Iron Curtain was put together at the time without the salary cap, therefore there was no need to split up units to meet these restrictions. If the Ravens had been kept together, they could have had more rings.
Richard, Glasgow

No, no, the accolade of best defence must go to the Mepwich Marlingpikes of the East Lothian Confectioners League. They have only allowed one safety in two friendlies against the Lorness Bruteforce.
Pam Gaye, Scotland

I think the Bucs' defence was nothing short of dominating this year. But over all, it's hard to convince me that this group deserves the same recognition as the Steelers of the '70s, the Bears of 85 or even Ravens of 00. If Sapp gets another ring in the next few years, I'll change my mind.
Jon, USA

How can you describe any group of players who just have to block another group of players as great?
Andrew, UK

Tampa's defence is awesome to watch, but it is hard to compare them to the more brawny defences of past decades. Their line is awesome, but the aspect of their defence I'm most impressed with is their speed and stamina.

Their defensive backfield was water-tight all night long, leaving Gannon with no one to throw to and no time to do it. Perhaps the Raiders should have had a little more patience in establishing a running game and not gone to the air so soon?

They completely neutralized Oakland's offence

Heather, USA

That being said, I think the BBC should open up another talking point posing the question that the officiating is the worst ever? Not just the Super Bowl, but throughout the playoffs I have never seen officials blow so many calls that embarrassingly always seem to occur right in front of their eyes.

It didn't impact the final result of the big game, but some game-changing calls were made in the quarterfinals that are downright horrible. A few referees, I believe, also need to be re-trained on the rules of football! Nonetheless, a separate topic, and by no means should tarnish a beautiful victory for the Buccaneers last night.
Will, Dallas, Texas, USA

Tampa's defence won this game. They completely neutralized Oakland's offence, making the Raiders look like a high school team. I can't believe anyone thought the Raiders were going to win that game. I certainly didn't.

Oakland has a good offence, but can't compare to the Bucs' D. Gruden built that Oakland team and Callahan worked under Gruden. Gruden effectively took Rich Gannon out of the game by teaching his D to read Oakland's QB.

Personally, I think TB should have given the MVP award to Rich Gannon for passing the ball to them so much. WOO HOO! GO BUCS!!!
Heather, USA

Whilst you can only admire the quality of the Bucs' defence, one point a lot of people have overlooked is as John Lynch said on the sideline during the Superbowl, 'They're running every play that we practised against'.

Tampa had an advantage that no other team has had in the Superbowl in that their head coach knew 90% of Oakland's offensive plays as the Raiders lined up.

It is difficult to say that they are the best of all time

Ted Smith, UK
So I would still rank the '70s Steelers the '85 Bears and the 2000 Ravens above Tampa's defence .Although hats off to Tampa Bay because they are still one of the best defences of the modern game .
Gary Williams, England

"Great" defences come and go but what can you say about the Steel Curtain with 4 rings over 6 years. That should speak for itself but you also have Lambert, Ham, Blount and Greene: all Hall of Famers.

That in the day when people didn't make millions just for signing a contract. These guys excelled for the love of the game.
Hyalker, Spain

The best defence ever is Chicago Bears of 1985! Hands Down. Dent, Marshall, Singletary etc. They were one of a kind Defence.
E Kissi, USA

Sapp and K. Johnson have championship rings. The Horror!
Ike, U.S.A.

Whilst the Buc's Defence is the best this season and has been good for the past couple of years, it is difficult to say that they are the best of all time.

Whilst they have a talented squad of players, credit should go to Monty Kiffin and his staff for producing tremendous game plans.

My hope is that this Superbowl rekindles the British public interest in American Football and in turn that they come out and support the British game, where amateurs play for the love of the sport.
Ted Smith, UK

We are fast and effective, and played a phenomenal game against the Raiders

Lora, Tampa
Despite only watching Football for four seasons now, this is the best defence I've seen in these 4 years. They shut out Philly and McNabb in the NFC Championship and destroy the great Rich Gannon in the Super Bowl.

A terrific defensive performance from the best D in several years.
Matthew Beaty, Newcastle, England

I agree with Grant from the USA. The Baltimore Ravens were simply amazing. Remember how bad their offence was? Just makes their defence all the more remarkable.

I remember in a 4 game period in the regular season they did not manage an offensive touchdown yet still managed two wins.
Imran, England

One must consider that this defence has steadily improved over the last three years. They were pretty good last year, and they brought it up a notch this year, to being the NFL best. If they notch it up again next year, and again in 2004, then they could very well be the best ever.

Frankly, it's still difficult to grasp the reality that my Buccaneers are finally the champions. It's a really GREAT feeling.
RonDiDo, Fl, USA

Our defence definately rocks! It is the best since the Bears in the '80s. We are fast and effective, and played a phenomenal game against the Raiders.
Lora, Tampa, FL/USA

The Bucs have a dominating defence, but the best defence of the modern era belongs to the '85 Chicago bears. It was Buddy Ryan's 4-6 defence that caused Bill Walsh to develop the "West Coast" offence. No other defence can make a claim as significant as that.
Owen Scott, USA

The best team ever is Miami in their 1972 season

Margie Stoll, USA

In terms of history, Tampa has a first-tier defence along with the Bears in '85 and Ravens in 2000. The Purple People Eaters, Orange Crush, Fearsome Foursome, and the Kansas defence of the late '60s and early '70s also belong in that category.

But for anyone who has watched football before the 1980s, the best defence of all time was the '76 Steel Curtain (a year when Pittsburgh did not win the Super Bowl). The Bears usually get the vote from the fans who started watching in the 1980s.
Richard, England

No way is the Bucs' defence the best ever, that distinction belongs to the 1984 World Champion Chicago Bears!!!
Mark Koszyk, USA

As a Tampa resident I have to say I am real proud of our team. The best team ever is Miami in their 1972 season where they played 17-0. A perfect season. Now it's Tampa's turn and hopefully we will stay on top. The entire city is still having a party and this afternoon we are having a parade for the Bucs. And it's all because of these two words: Pewter Power!
Margie Stoll, USA

The good people of Tampa are still celebrating the big win even on Tuesday morning. The victory parade will be Bayside in downtown Tampa in the afternoon on Tuesday. Absentees at schools were double the norm on Monday after the game.

As for the best defence ever (the question at hand), the Bucs can humbly make an argument. They probably are the fastest ever. They outscored the NFL's #1 offence three touchdowns to two (the Raiders scored once on a punt block as well). That's a pretty big statement for the history books (perhaps they're the best offensive defence ever?).

Score one for the little guy! Score one for Chucky!

Brian, Tampa Bay

And while the Ravens went by the wayside, they were a wild-card team that just got on a roll in the playoffs. This Bucs team has been together too long to splinter now, when Tampa is on the verge of making history (three straight Vince Lombardi trophies anyone?).

Optimistic, yes, but I'm from Tampa just like our Coach Gruden. And this team is special...the D has been consistently good for years, and the future is bright for the former laughingstocks of world sport. We used to be losers, but the world isn't laughing at Tampa anymore.

The Buccaneers are Super Bowl Champions. It is a wonderful feeling of pride to have grown up in this town and finally to see our team on top of the world after so many years of futility. Score one for the little guy! Score one for Chucky!

Mr Sapp may have overstated the Bucs' case for best D ever just a bit, but they did CRUSH their competition. You can talk smack when you back it up like the Bucs do.
Brian, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA

The Bucs are a superb team and they deserve this bowl win after the past couple sad knockouts in the closing rounds of the playoffs, not to mention their horrid first 23 years in the league.

Their defence shut down one of the best offences seen in a while, they're one of the best ever. Just hope Gruden can hold on to them!
Fitzwater, SC, USA

The Buccaneers' defence was awesome. Certainly the last three games have been the most effective defensive displays over the last 20 years. Two highly rated quarterbacks - McNabb and Gannon - could not get any kind of offence going. They were exceptional against the rush, and impenetrable against the pass.

I would love to see this Tampa team play against the 1985 Bears

Pat Neligan, USA

Nevertheless, the key to Tampa's victory was their offence. In the final five or six weeks of the regular season, the Bucs were awful - couldn't pass, couldn't rush - no offence.

Suddenly Johnson came back against San Francisco and played like a man possessed. This, with the defence ensured victory against the 49ers and the Eagles, but the jewel in the crown was the sudden discovery of a running game on Sunday.

I would love to see this Tampa team play against the 1985 Bears - the best team I have ever seen.
Pat Neligan, USA

Bears in the mid-'80s were superb. Remember how the 49ers closed out Dan Marino and won by a country mile in the their first(?) Superbowl win.
John Sharrocks, UK

I'm not saying that they were the best ever, but when fantastic defences of the past are being discussed, the Giants of the late '80s more than merit inclusion.
Graeme, Scotland

One Super Bowl does not a dynasty make. While the Bucs deserve kudos for this year's Super Bowl, they have a long way to go before they even come close the Steel Curtain.
Marcella, USA

There have been some great defences in my lifetime and with due respect to the Steel Curtain I would say the Bucs are far more disruptive than Pittsburgh was. However, the Bears of the mid-80s were the best defence I have seen by a large margin.
Greg, US

Absolutely this is the best defence ever

Ken, USA
Tampa is good, and yes they are fast, but they are not as good as the Philadelphia Eagles defences of the early 1990's led by the greatest defensive end in the history of the game, Reggie White. Congratulations to Bucs coach Jon Gruden, Philadelphia's former offensive co-ordinator!
Ken, USA

As a long time Bucs fan who has watched them battle their way from the lowest ranks of the NFL, I have nothing but pride and congratulations for this team. I don't know about the best, but I do know they go out there and play punishing football with more heart than has been seen in a long time. They make their opponents pay for every yard and play like monsters the entire game. Only the future can tell where they go from here.
Angela, USA

Absolutely this is the best defence ever; it has speed, finesse, the best open field tacklers in the game and the hardest hitting too. There isn't a weak link in the whole defence even if you go two or three deep at any position.

Just wait for next year, the salary cap is under control, the offence will improve allowing the defence to rest more, Super Bowl XXXVIII here we come.
Red47, Tampa

They are certainly a quality outfit, and have the fastest defence I have ever seen. They also have a great pass rush, and get so much pressure on the quarterback from their front four alone that they rarely need to blitz.

This allows a somewhat mediocre secondary to sit back in coverage with the help of their linebackers and wait for the quarterback to make mistakes. Overall though I would have to agree with others here that the Ravens 2000 and the 1985 Bears defence were better.
Jonathan Michaud, USA

How about this nickname for the Bucs defence: The Swarm. They are as quick as bees, and just as angry. Nearly every tackle Tampa had on Sunday was made by two or more defenders. Their sacks and interceptions are spread over their entire line-up, and the pressure they put on every star quarterback this year was simply insatiable! Heck, maybe we should call them the Killer B's!
Jesse, USA

Great defence, although Oakland didn't really handle the pressure well

Brian, Canada
Sure, it's a strong defence. But remember two things. Tampa Bay lost four games in the regular season which is hardly a qualification for "best ever", and the Raiders made them look a lot better than they are.
Tim, USA

No doubt the '85 Bears had the best. Their proximity to near perfection was reflected in the intense gaze of Mike Singletary and demonstrated in the dismantling of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Paul, USA

My belief is that the best defence ever was that of the 2001 Super Bowl winners the Baltimore Ravens. They dominated other teams' offences throughout the regular season as well as in post season. Then they stopped the New York Giants dead in their tracks in Super Bowl 35. The Giants were no pushovers yet were unable to post any offensive touchdowns or field goals. Only a fluke special teams play prevented the first Super Bowl shutout in history.
Harry Beck, USA

Great defence, although Oakland didn't really handle the pressure well. I have to say though that calling Tampa bay the 'world' champs is annoying. It's 'American' football so they are the champions of 'America'. That's like saying Arsenal are the 'world' champions for winning the FA cup last year.
Brian, Canada

It has to be close to the best all time; it's up there with the Broncos 'Orange Crush', Steelers 'Steel Curtain', Viking 'Purple People Eaters' or any other you want to name. The only reason there's a debate is that it hasn't got a catchy name - yet.
Alan, UK

The perennial cupcake Buccaneers are the world champs. They played a dominating game and my hat's off to them. The only drawback now is that Keyshawn Johnson and Warren Sapp now have Super Bowl rings. The are two of the most outspoken and arrogant players in the game. Now they'll be even worse!
Markus Liles, USA

The greatest defensive line of the last 20 years for me was the Vikings of the late 80's

Dan J, UK

The 2000 Ravens were better, as were many past Steelers and Raiders teams. These guys have earned their dues though for being good for many years now, topped off by the Super Bowl win.
Matt, USA

It is too early to hypothetically compare. There is no doubt, in this year, in this moment, they were/are awesome, but you have to ask the question in three years time. Equally with the salary cap and the way the league is constructed now, it will be very hard to create any kind of dynasty.
Simon Leila, UK

I wasn't able to watch last night's game but in terms of defence, the best defence I have seen in the last 20 years was the Chicago team that won the Superbowl in the mid 1980s.
Kerry, UK

The Bears of '85 were the best defence ever, but these Buccs are fairly close. The greatest defensive line of the last 20 years for me was the Vikings of the late 80's though.
Dan J, UK

The Chicago Bears defence of the mid 80's was the all time best

Andy Johnston, Anon

Good they may be, but what about the Bears of the '80s? A near shut out in the 'Bowl and only one loss in the regular season.
Nigel S, UK

In 15 years of watching American Football I have to say the Bucs' defence is the most effective and fastest I've ever seen. What they lack in size they more than make up for in ability to disrupt the offence and get to the quarterback, as Gannon will testify!
Graham Wright, England, UK

Tampa Bay Buccaneers remind me of the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco '49ers, Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears defences.

They are strong, have the taste to win, and their defences in these championship teams helped in many ways in winning the Super Bowl. If you look at the Raiders, their defence did not have the enthusiasm, or will to win.
CJ, San Francisco, CA USA

The best defence ever? Give me a break! The Chicago Bears defence of the mid 80's was the all time best: Singletary, Dent and Marshall - the names drip of the tongue. They didn't only beat their opponents they mentally destroyed them....for a good five/six years. The Buccs have some way to go yet to match that consistency and pure menace.
Andy Johnston, Anon

The best defence I ever saw were the 1985 Bears '46 defence. Hampton, Dent, McMichael, Singletary et al. They were amazing to watch although probably painful to play against - the Dolphins that year were the only team to perform against them.
RF, UK

Definitely the best in a decade

James, UK

Tampa, while having a great defence aren't the greatest ever. The Raiders were out of synch most of the game, which gave the impression that Tampa were better than they really were.

You have to remember that Oakland had lost their starting centre for reasons unknown. They don't have a running game of any sorts. This meant that Tampa could deal with the pass all day long.

Had Tampa played another AFC team one with a true running game, Miami, Denver or even the Jets or Titans for instance then the game would have been much closer.

The best Defence in history was probably the Bears in the mid eighties followed by the early 70's Dolphins and then the Steelers of the 70's. Baltimore while outstanding for a couple of seasons have still managed to lose games which they had no right to give up and have since fallen apart.

In the modern age of Football I doubt we will EVER see a defence stay on top for more than five years due to the salary cap, etc.
Douglas Adamson, Scotland

One season and one Super Bowl victory and you talk of the best ever? Nonsense!

The Steelers won four in six years and it was the defence that was the key to it all, particularly the first two. In Jack Lambert they had the best middle linebacker ever to play the game - Jack Ham on the outside was no slouch either ... only Lawrence Taylor compares. Mel Blount led an aggressive secondary that pirated many a wayward pass.

Then, ask Fran Tarkenton about the Steel Curtain front four: LC Greenwood, Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White ... peerless ... You couldn't run against them, you couldn't pass against them. The Steelers had the best D in an era of great Defences (Dallas Doomsday, Raiders, etc.). Tampa Bay have a lot to do to prove they are even close.
Richard, UK

Definitely the best in a decade. This is shown by the fact that there wasn't a weak link in the defence at any time. If they can continue this over a season or two they be the greatest but not quite yet.
James, UK

What the Buccs achieved at the Superbowl, and the dominating manner in which they did it (against the best offence and season MVP in the game, and with a low-ranked offence themselves) easily ranks as the single most impressive defensive display in the history of the sport. The Buccs may not be the best defence ever (yet), but this performance was unquestionably the best ever.
Omar, Switzerland

You can only compare sporting performances relative to their peers at the time

Jez, UK

I have followed American Football since 1983 and I have to say the most awesome defence I ever saw was the 1885-6 Bears. Fair play to Tampa, they are good and well deserved their victory over the number one rated offence in the league.
Richard , UK

BBC Sport Online rounds up the latest news from the NFL.

Bucs 48-21 Raiders

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