Ranking the 10 Best Team Defensive Performances in Super Bowl History

Jeffrey Schmidt@JeffSchmidt9Correspondent IIIJanuary 30, 2012

Ranking the 10 Best Team Defensive Performances in Super Bowl History

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    Defense wins championships. That phrase is one of the most commonly used in professional football, and for the most part, it stands true. The Giants and Patriots have had stellar play from their defenses to make it to the big game, which has inspired me to take a look at the 10 best team defensive performances in the history of the Super Bowl.  

    Surprisingly, no team has ever been shutout in Super Bowl history, while the most points ever given up in a Super Bowl is 55.  

    Their have been some great defensive performances in Super Bowl history, but here are the 10 greatest by a team of all-time.   

10. 2001 Patriots vs. Rams, Super Bowl XXXVI

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    Score: 20-17 Patriots 

    Stats: 427 total yards allowed, two interceptions, one fumble recovery. 

    The Patriots held "The Greatest Show on Turf" to just three points through the first three quarters of play, and they received a huge spark when Ty Law intercepted a Kurt Warner pass for a touchdown. 

    New England allowed a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter, but the 17 points allowed to one of the greatest offenses of all-time really shows how well the New England defense played. 

9. 2002 Buccaneers vs. Raiders, Super Bowl XXXVII

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    Score: 48-21 Buccaneers 

    Defensive Stats: 269 total yards allowed, three defensive touchdowns, five interceptions, five sacks. 

    The Buccaneers possessed the league's No. 1 rated defensive heading into the Super Bowl 37, and they backed it up with a stellar performance against the Raiders. 

    The Tampa defense seemed like they knew what play Oakland running on every down, and the five passes that they intercepted off Rich Gannon come as clear-cut evidence. 

    The Bucs returned three out of the five interceptions for touchdowns, and they somehow managed to hold Oakland to a dismal 19 yards on the ground. 

8. 1992 Cowboys vs. Bills, Super Bowl XXVII

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    Score: 52-17 Cowboys 

    Stats: 362 total yards allowed, five fumble recoveries, four interceptions. 

    The Dallas Cowboys dominated this game from start to finish due to their Super Bowl-record nine forced turnovers.  

    The Cowboys recovered two of their five fumbles for touchdowns and intercepted the combination of Jim Kelly and Frank Reich four times. Troy Aikman won the game's MVP, but Leon Lett was Dallas's playmaker on defense, as he recorded a sack, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. 

    Dallas also held Hall-of-Fame running back Thurman Thomas to just 19 yards on 11 carries. 

7. 1968 Jets vs. Colts, Super Bowl III

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    Score: 16-7 Jets 

    Stats: 324 total yards allowed, four interceptions, one fumble recovery.

    Joe Namath and the offense get a majority of the credit for the Jets victory, but the Jets defense made the plays when they had to in Super Bowl III. The defense intercepted two passes deep in their own territory, which eventually forced Colts coach Don Shula to bench Earl Morrall for Johnny Unitas. 

    The Jets held the Colts off the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter, as they left the entire nation in a state of shock. The reason? Baltimore was favored by 18 points heading into the game. 

6. 1971 Cowboys vs. Dolphins, Super Bowl VI

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    Score: 24-3 Cowboys

    Stats: 185 total yards allowed, one interception, one fumble recovery

    The Cowboys defense dismantled the entire Miami offense, as they allowed just three points to the Dolphins. This has been the only Super Bowl where a team did not allow a touchdown, which makes the performance that much more special. 

    Miami was held to just two of nine on third down and only held the ball for 20 minutes and 48 seconds. 

5. 1983 Raiders vs. Redskins, Super Bowl XVIII

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    Score: 38-9 Raiders

    Stats: 283 total yards allowed, six sacks, two interceptions, one fumble recovery 

    The Redskins high-flying offense was not prepared for the Silver and Black, as the Raiders dominated Washington in all three phases of the game. The Raiders allowed just 2.9 yards per carry and just 3.9 yards per offensive play. 

    The Redskins, who scored a then-record 541 points, were held to just six third-down conversions on 19 attempts. Washington scored just nine points, which was by far their lowest total of the season. 

4. 1974 Steelers vs. Vikings, Super Bowl IX

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    Score: 16-6 Steelers 

    Stats: 119 total yards allowed, one safety, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries

    Fran Tarkenton was doomed from the start. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback did not stand a chance against the Steel Curtain, as he was hit on what seemed like every play. The quarterback was held to just 102 yards passing, and he was not able to take advantage of his scrambling ability. 

    Pittsburgh never trailed; they allowed just 119 total yards and they intercepted the quarterback three times.

3. 1985 Bears vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XX

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    Score: 46-10 Bears 

    Stats: 123 total yards allowed, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, seven sacks

    The Bears "46" defense completely shut down every facet of the lackluster Patriots offense. The unit allowed a mere seven yards on the ground and just 123 overall.   

    Chicago also tied a Super Bowl record with seven sacks and forced a total of six turnovers.  

2. 2007 Giants vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XLII

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    Score: 17-14 Giants

    Stats: 274 total yards, five sacks, one fumble recovery  

    In what many consider to be the greatest upset in pro football history, the New York Giants defense disrupted the extremely potent New England Patriots offense. The Giants were led by defensive end Justin Tuck, who had two sacks, six tackles and one forced fumble in the game. The Giants went onto to sack Tom Brady five times and kept him jittery all game long. 

    The Giants stuffed New England on two fourth-down attempts, and they also were also able to contain New England's ground game by holding the unit to just 45 yards on 16 carries. This New England offense is arguably the greatest offense of all-time, and the Giants found a way to shut them down. 

1. 2000 Ravens vs. Giants, Super Bowl XXXV

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    Score: 30-7 Ravens 

    Stats: 152 total yards allowed, four interceptions, zero offensive TD allowed. 

    Both defenses dominated early, but the Ravens defense dominated for the entire game. Baltimore intercepted Kerry Collins for a then-record four interceptions, including one for a touchdown. 

    Giants punter Brad Maynard set the ugly Super Bowl record with 11 punts, the Giants recorded eight three-and-outs and the Giants were a dreadful 2-for-14 on third down. This Baltimore Ravens defense ranks among the best defenses of all-time.