NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend: Does Defense Still Win Championships?

Craig HortonCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2012

Will the Packers defense be good enough to win another Super Bowl?
Will the Packers defense be good enough to win another Super Bowl?Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When you look at the offensive statistics and the quarterbacking performances of the Saints, Packers and Patriots, it appears that defense is irrelevant.

To give further credit to that thought, consider that both No. 1 seeds—New England and Green Bay—are ranked 31st and 32nd in total defense.

Among the eight remaining playoff teams, five are 20th or worse in total defense. Denver is 20th, New Orleans is 24th, the Giants are 27th, New England is 31st and Green Bay is 32nd.

On the flip side of the coin, Houston is second, Baltimore is third and San Francisco is fourth.

So, does the old statement that "Defense wins championships" still hold true?


Even though some recent Super Bowl winners might not get fair recognition for their defense, all made great defensive plays in the Super Bowl to win.

Great defensive plays have been the difference in the last four Super Bowls.

The Giants' upset of New England will long be remembered for the Giants' winning drive. While it was great, it would not have been possible without an all-around great defensive performance.

The Giants sacked Tom Brady five times, and held the Patriots offense to 274 total yards in a 17-14 win.

When the Steelers beat the Cardinals the next year, they had a similar last-minute game-winning drive. However, the greatest play of that game was James Harrison's epic interception that was returned for a touchdown just before halftime. If not for that play, the Cardinals would have most likely won that Super Bowl.

Two years ago, the Saints won—with a great defensive play. Leading 24-17 with 3:12 remaining, Tracy Porter returned a Peyton Manning interception 74 yards to cap the win. Without that play, we might have seen the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

Last year, it might seem that the Packers offense beat the Steelers defense. Consider, though, that despite the fact that Green Bay sacked Ben Roethlisberger only once, they intercepted him twice. One was returned for a touchdown by Nick Collins. That was the difference in a 31-25 win.

So, while it may take great offense to get to a Super Bowl, defense still wins championships!