Shutdown! The greatest pass defenses in history

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 23, 2010



The Jets defense ruled the airwaves during the 2009 season, with an NFL-best 58.84 Defensive Passer Rating.
 
But even the stingy J-Men of 2009 were softer than the rotund midsection of the average CHFF Troll when compared with the greatest pass defense of the Super Bowl Era.
 
That honor falls, appropriately enough, upon the Steel Curtain Steelers of 1973, with an amazing 33.1 Defensive Passer Rating.
 
The numbers are spine-tingling for those among us that still pine for the lockdownn days of the Dead Ball Era, when defensive ends head-slapped tackles, blitizing linebackers roughed the passer with flag-flee glee, and cornerbacks did everything but prison-shank wide receivers.
 
Pittsburgh's pass-defense numbers that year were stunning. Opposing passers compiled the following stat-line :
  • 164 of 359 (45.7%) for 1,923 yards, 5.36 YPA, 11 TDs and 37 INTs
The figure that leaps screaming off the sheet is the amazing 37 picks in 14 games. The 2009 Jets, by comparison, allowed a puny 8 TDs in 16 games, but hauled in just 17 picks.
 
Pittsburgh's all-time best pass defense was an equal-opportunity unit: Mike Wagner (pictured) led the team with 8 INT, but 10 other guys recorded at least one pick. Amazing. Eleven defenders boasted at least one INT for Pittsburgh that season. The entire starting secondary recorded 24 picks alone, and Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount was last on the list: Wagner (8), safety Glen Edwards (6), cornerback John Rowser (6) and Blount (4).
 
Needless to say, Steel Curtain stalwart Jack Lambert joined a fairly good defense when he was drafted by Pittsburgh the following spring. Steel Curtain defenses are well represented on our list of the greatest pass defenses of the Super Bowl Era.
 
The following list represents the statistical utility of Defensive Passer Rating: almost every team on the list was very good, and five of the top 25 pass defenses went on to win the Super Bowl. That's a pretty good rate of success for a single Quality Stat.
 
25 Best Pass Defenses of Super Bowl Era (by Defensive Passer Rating)
 
Team
Record
DPR
Team Result
1
1973 Steelers
10-4
33.1
Lost div. playoff
2
1975 Raiders
11-3
37.2
Lost AFC title game
3
1977 Falcons
7-7
37.4
Missed playoffs
4
1970 Vikings
12-2
40.4
Lost div. playoff
5
1988 Vikings
11-5
41.2
Lost div. playoff
6
1967 Packers
9-4-1
41.5
Won SB II
7t
1969 Chiefs*
11-3
42.1
Won SB IV
7t
1969 Vikings
12-2
42.1
Lost SB IV
9
1976 Redskins
10-4
42.6
Lost div. playoff
10
1967 Bears
7-6-1
42.7
Missed playoffs
11
1975 Steelers
12-2
42.8
Won SB X
12
1976 Lions
6-8
43.7
Missed playoffs
13
1977 Steelers
9-5
43.8
Lost div. playoff
14
1971 Colts
10-4
44.2
Lost AFC title game
15
1974 Steelers
10-3-1
44.3
Won SB IX
16
1973 Falcons
9-5
44.8
Missed playoffs
17
1982 Dolphins
7-2
44.9
Lost SB XVII
18
1971 Redskins
9-4-1
45.1
Lost div. playoff
19
1976 Steelers
10-4
45.2
Lost AFC title game
20t
1969 Raiders*
12-1-1
45.4
Lost AFL title game
20t
1977 Colts
10-4
45.4
Lost div. playoff
22
1976 Rams
10-3-1
45.6
Lost NFC title game
23
1971 Vikings
11-3
45.7
Lost div. playoff
24
1970 Chiefs
7-5-2
45.8
Missed playoffs
25
1966 Packers
12-2
46.1
Won SB I
* AFL

From our partners




Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use   Logout
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI