The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens have churned out great defenses year in and year out for the past decade. But, who has been the best defensive team of the 2000-2009 decade?
The Ravens were responsible for that beastly 2000 defense that only allowed 60 rushing yards and fewer than 11 points per game. That defense led the team to a Super Bowl XXXV victory. The Steelers created an equally beastly defense in 2008 that lead the league in nearly every measurable team defensive statistic. That defense propelled the Steelers to a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.
During the past decade, the Steelers have led the league in rushing defense three times and have a total of eight top-three finishes. Over that span they have given up an average of 78.5 rushing yards per game. Baltimore has led the league once during that span and has six top-five finishes. During that time frame, the Ravens have allowed an average of 82.9 yards per game on the ground.
Between 2000 and 2009, Baltimore had six top-ten finishes in pass defense, allowing 176.7 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Steelers led the league in pass defense during the 2008 season and had five top-ten performances. They allowed an average of 172.6 yards per game.
It’s a close call, but… Advantage: Steelers
The Steelers lead the league in total yards allowed four times during the past decade. They managed to finish in the top-ten of the entire NFL every single season during that time period allowing just 251.1 yards per game. The Ravens were capable of finishing in the top-ten nine times and led the league in 2006. On average, they have allowed only 259.6 total yards per game over the last ten seasons.
Baltimore has led the league twice in points allowed, amassing seven top-ten finishes. They averaged 15.9 points per game. The Steelers also allowed the fewest point in the league twice, with six top-ten efforts. For the entire decade, Pittsburgh has allowed 15.8 points per game.
By the narrowest of margins… Advantage: Steelers
Pittsburgh averaged 24.6 turnovers forced per season during the past ten years; however, Baltimore has averaged 28.9 turnovers forced.
The Ravens managed to pile up 36.4 sacks per season, whereas, the Steelers gunned for the quarterback harder, averaging 40.1 sacks per season.
It’s a tough call to make, but Pittsburgh has had the statistically superior defense in nearly every measurable defensive category. However, the true measure of a team is winning championships. Both teams accomplished that goal during the last ten years and their defenses played a big role in their championships, however, Pittsburgh won twice while Baltimore only won once.
No matter how you slice it, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the defensive team of the decade.
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