In 2011, the New England Patriots may have finished with the second worst defense, but they're Super Bowl bound—and you cannot take that away from them.
Granted, the majority of New England's success this season came from the arm of Tom Brady, but in their AFC Championship victory over the Baltimore Ravens, their defense made plays when it counted the most.
The Patriots defense certainly rose to the occasion against the Ravens, as they held Ray Rice to only 67 yards on an average of only 3.2 yards per-carry while forcing Joe Flacco to throw one interception.
On paper, New England's defense did not play well, as they allowed 398 yards of total offense—but they made plays when it counted the most.
More specifically, with 22 seconds left in the game with the Ravens trailing 23-20 and on the verge of scoring the game-winning touchdown—Sterling Moore came in to save the day.
Flacco dropped back to pass and threw a bullet to Lee Evans in the right corner of the endzone. Evans had the ball in his hands, but Moore came in at the last second to knock the ball out and prevent the Ravens from scoring the game-winning touchdown.
New England's defense has been like this for most of this season—which explains their 13-3 record and their AFC title.
Most of the credit of New England's "rise to the occasion" defense goes to Bill Belichick.
Let's put it this way: New England's defense is not that talented aside from Vince Wilfork, Patrick Chung, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. In fact, New England has been playing with numerous practice squad players and has even rolled out receivers in their defensive backfield—but Belichick has found a way to make it work.
Belichick has trained his talentless defense to come up with huge stops when it matters the most.
New England's defense is far from pretty, but it is good enough to be playing in Super Bowl XLVI.
Perhaps their defense could add some glamor when it's all said and done—and that would be a Super Bowl ring.
Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus