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News » Trophy case Super Bowl history says Steelers' defense will dominate 2009-02-03


Trophy case Super Bowl history says Steelers' defense will dominate 2009-02-03


Trophy case Super Bowl history says Steelers' defense will dominate  2009-02-03
TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with their pop-gun offense, didn't stand a chance in 2003.


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The Bucs led the league in defense, but they had not faced the NFL's best offense. That would come Super Sunday, when Oakland would unleash Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. The Raiders were 31/2-point favorites because of their offensive might.

It was no contest. The Bucs smothered the Oakland offense, limiting it to 11 first downs, 14 points and 269 yards. League MVP Gannon was sacked five times and intercepted five times.

The lesson to be learned: Don't bet against the NFL's best defense when it arrives at a Super Bowl.

The Pittsburgh Steelers bring the No. 1-ranked defense to the Super Bowl today against Arizona. Don't bet against the Steelers.

Since 1970, there have been seven teams that have played a full season, finished No. 1 in the league in defense and advanced to the Super Bowl. Those teams are 7-0 in the championship game. Pittsburgh becomes No. 8.

The only team since the 1970 merger to take the No. 1 defense to a Super Bowl and lose was the 1982 Miami Dolphins. But the Dolphins played a soft, division-laden, strike-shortened schedule of only nine games that season and were steamrolled by the Washington Redskins in the championship game, 27-17.

The 1996 Green Bay Packers, 1992 Cowboys, 1985 Chicago Bears, 1977 Cowboys, 1974 Steelers and 1972 Dolphins are the other top-ranked defenses that prevailed in Super Bowls.

The 1992 Cowboys faced an explosive offense with two Hall of Fame playmakers in quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas. A third playmaker, wide receiver Andre Reed, was among the 2009 Hall of Fame finalists.

Those Bills led the NFL in rushing and finished second in offense, third in scoring and sixth in passing. But that Buffalo offense was dismantled by the Cowboys. Dallas forced nine turnovers and four sacks and held the Bills to two touchdowns in a 52-17 blowout victory.

Defense does indeed win championships.

Which is why Pittsburgh is a 61/2-point favorite today against the Cardinals, even though Arizona finished second in the NFL in passing and scoring.

The Cardinals are the fashionable upset pick because they put the ball in the air. Just like Gannon and the 2002 Raiders. Kelly and the 1992 Bills. John Elway and the 1987 Broncos. Dan Marino and the 1984 Dolphins. All those offensive juggernauts lost Super Bowls.

Arizona's Kurt Warner passed for 400 yards in a game this season and 300 yards on seven other occasions. He has thrown four touchdown passes in two of his last four games, including the NFC Championship Game against Philadelphia.

The Cardinals have three 1,000-yard receivers and two Pro Bowlers. Larry Fitzgerald takes a string of five consecutive 100-yard receiving games into the Super Bowl - the longest streak in the NFL since 2005.

The new breed of NFL owners wants a team that throws the Football. Fans love watching those teams. But defense still wins in this league.

The Steelers did not allow a 300-yard passer all season and have allowed only one 100-yard receiver in the last nine games. Opposing quarterbacks threw 20 interceptions against only 12 touchdown passes this season and were sacked 51 times.

NFL passing champion Philip Rivers had his worst game of the season against Pittsburgh, completing only 15 of 26 passes for 164 yards with two interceptions, two sacks and no touchdowns. He won the passing crown with an efficiency rating of 105.5 - but he was 44.4 that day against the Steelers.

In their last Super Bowl appearance in 2006, the Steelers faced the highest-scoring offense in the NFL and held Seattle to one offensive touchdown in a 21-10 victory.

So don't bet against defense in the Super Bowl. And don't bet against the Steelers.

Steel Curtain lives on

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a history of great defenses. They appear in their seventh Super Bowl today, but this is only the second time they have brought the NFL's top-ranked defense to the game. Here's a statistical comparison of those two top-ranked defenses:

Year Defense Run Pass Pts. Sacks INT TAW* Pro Bowlers

2008 237.2 80.3 156.9 223 51 20 29 3

1974 219.6 114.9 104.7 189 52 25 47 4

*Takeaways

Top Super Bowl defenses

The eight teams that played a full season, led the NFL in defense and appeared in the Super Bowl. It lists the average yards allowed and points given up per game.

Year Team Yards Points Record

1972 Miami 235.5 12.2 14-0

1974 Pittsburgh 219.6 13.5 10-3-1

1977 Dallas 229.5 15.1 12-2

1985 Chicago 258.4 12.3 15-1

1992 Dallas 245.7 15.2 13-3

1996 Green Bay 259.7 13.1 13-3

2002 Tampa Bay 252 12.3 12-4

2008 Pittsburgh 237.2 13.9 12-4

PREDICTIONS

Todd Archer

Cardinals, 23-21

Cowboys fans rejoice, as Pittsburgh is still in a tie with their team and San Francisco for Super Bowl wins. But they weep, knowing Arizona - ARIZONA!!! - has a Lombardi Trophy.

Brian Davis

Cardinals, 27-21

Kurt Warner's magical ride isn't over yet. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald's long journey to greatness is only beginning.

Tim Cowlishaw

Cardinals, 27-23

Steelers defense slows down Cards in first half but can't handle Larry Fitzgerald and a hugely motivated Anquan Boldin in the second.

Rick Gosselin

Steelers, 24-20

The NFL's best defense powers Pittsburgh to a league-record sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Tim MacMahon

Steelers, 24-20

The new-age Steel Curtain will force Kurt Warner to commit a few turnovers.

Kevin Sherrington

Steelers, 21-17

Todd Haley asks for police escort to protect him from Warner, Boldin.

Jean-Jacques Taylor

Steelers, 31-14

The dream season comes to a nightmarish end because of sacks, turnovers and nerves.

Calvin Watkins

Steelers, 27-14

Steelers defense slows down the Cardinals' wideouts and puts too much pressure on Kurt Warner. Hines Ward's knee is just fine, and Big Ben gets a second ring.

NFL PICKS

TODD ARCHER TIM COWLISHAW BRIAN DAVIS RICK GOSSELIN KEVIN SHERRINGTON JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR JOE TRAHAN CALVIN WATKINS

Cowboys Columnist Cowboys NFL Columnist Columnist WFAA Cowboys

vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight vs. Line Straight

Arizona (+7) vs. Pittsburgh Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Pitt. Arizona Pitt. Pitt. Pitt. Arizona Pitt. Pitt. Pitt.

Last week vs. line 1-1 .500 2-0 1.000 1-1 .500 1-1 .500 0-2 0.000 1-1 .500 0-2 0.000 1-1 .500

Season vs. line 145-113-8 .560 126-132-8 .489 135-123-8 .523 133-125-8 .515 135-123-8 .523 146-112-8 .564 130-128-8 .504 153-105-8 .590

Last week straight 2-0 1.000 2-0 1.000 1-1 .500 2-0 1.000 1-1 .500 1-1 .500 1-1 .500 1-1 .500

Season straight 170-95-1 .641 162-103-1 .611 162-103-1 .611 151-114-1 .570 171-94-1 .645 176-89-1 .664 165-100-1 .622 163-102-1 .615

Lines through Wednesday; shaded boxes indicate leader.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 3, 2009

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