The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Cliche because it's true

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The teams that gave up the fewest points in the NFL are going to the Super Bowl?

I'd be surprised if it was anything else. Because the football cliche of all football clich├ęs -- "defense wins championships'' is a cliche because it's true.

You can look at history -- the Steel Curtain Steelers; the 1985 Bears, even those 49ers teams that featured Joe Montana and Jerry Rice that were renowned for offense. They also played defense as well as anyone in their era except, of course, for those Bears and the Lawrence Taylor-led Giants teams that won a couple of Super Bowls during that time. And how about those 2000 Ravens who went a full month of the regular season (Tony Banks, then Trent Dilfer at QB) without scoring a touchdown on offense?

Sure this was an offensive year that followed an offensive year in which two teams with outstanding offenses and so-so defenses, the Saints and Colts, made it to the Super Bowl.

But as noted above ...

I dislike the way the NFL ranks offense and defense -- by yards gained and yards allowed. That's because there are always garbage yards -- teams that run up 150 or 200 yards passing in the fourth quarter when they're trailing by four touchdowns because the other team is playing prevent (known to TV announcers as PREE-vent). Or the opposite -- the teams that are leading that allow those yards. All season, the Giants and Chargers were 1-2 on both offense and defense and ...

Neither made the playoffs.

In fact, the Giants, whose 10-6 regular-season record was the same as the Packers, are testament both to why defense has to be consistent and ...

Why Green Bay is in the Super Bowl.

In the 15th week of the season, New York hosted Philadelphia with the NFC East and probably a second seed in the conference on the line. The Giants contained Michael Vick for 52 minutes, Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes against the leaky Philly secondary and New York led 31-10.

Then ... bang! The Giants' defense collapsed along with their special teams -- they and the Chargers both stunk there, another reason they missed the postseason. Vick ran wild (and passed accurately) and the Eagles scored 28 points, winning 38-31 on an improbable DeSean Jackson punt return. A defense ranked 1-2 in yards allowed? Yes, but not points allowed, which is the main idea.

Anyway, had New York won the NFC East, Green Bay would have had to overcome Philly to make the playoffs and the Eagles tanked the final game or they would have finished 11-5, a game ahead of the Packers.

Oh yeah, defense.

It's not just the Packers and Steelers who used it to win. Look at the teams they beat, the Bears and Jets.

Pretty good on defense too.

Yes, folks, defense wins championships. Even in a year when everyone is running up points.

By Dave Goldberg  |  January 25, 2011; 1:23 PM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Defense , Green Bay Packers , Pittsburgh Steelers , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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