Best run defenses of the Super Bowl Era (through 2006)

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 04, 2007



The 2006 Vikings threatened to become the No. 1 run defense of the Super Bowl Era before tumbling to No. 3 with their 41-21 season-ending loss to St. Louis.
 
The Vikings entered the finale atop the list, after surrendering just 2.63 yards per rush attempt through their first 15 games. But the Rams shredded the Minnesota D (relatively speaking) for 82 yards on 22 attempts, an average of 3.7 YPA.
 
As a result, the Vikings ended the season allowing a still-very-stingy 2.83 yards per rush attempt.
 
Here's how the Vikings now stack up against the greatest run defenses of the Super Bowl Era. As we discussed in the past, one thing will jump out: Most of these teams were not very good. Note the 2000 Chargers. Only four defenses in the Super Bowl Era were tougher to run against. The 2000 Chargers went 1-15.
 
Interestingly, 2006 went down as a year in which the Colts ended the season with the very worst run defense of the Super Bowl Era. But they went 12-4 and easily won the AFC South. Click here to see how they stack up historically.
 
Kinda punctures a big hole in the whole "you must stop the run to win" theory. The truth is that you must do a lot of things well to win. No matter how well you do one thing, like stop the run, it won't help you if you suck in several other areas.
 
BEST RUN DEFENSES of the SUPER BOWL ERA
Team
Att.
Yards
YPA
Record (Result)
2000 Ravens
361
970
2.69
12-4 (won Super Bowl)
1998 Chargers
422
1,140
2.70
5-11
2006 Vikings
348
985
2.83
6-10
1991 Eagles
383
1,136
2.97
10-6
2000 Chargers
470
1,422
3.03
1-15
1995 49ers
348
1,061
3.04
11-5 (lost div. playoffs)
1966 Bills (AFL)
344
1,051
3.06
9-4-1 (lost AFL title game)
1999 Chargers
432
1,321
3.06
8-8
1994 Vikings
355
1,090
3.07
10-6 (lost wild-card game)
1966 Patriots (AFL)
369
1,135
3.08
8-4-2
1967 Rams
361
1,119
3.10
11-1-2 (lost div. playoffs)
2004 Redskins
419
1,304
3.11
6-10
 
You may notice that on the "worst run defenses" list we include every defense in history. Here on the "best run defenses" list we look only at the Super Bowl Era. The reason is simple: In the pre-Super Bowl Era, especially back in the first three decades of the NFL, there were dozens of defenses that stuffed the run better than any modern team. But the worst run defenses of today do stand high among the worst run defenses of all time.

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