Earlier Tuesday, my column focused on why the Baltimore Ravens' 2000 defense was better than this year's Seattle Seahawks one. Let's take the debate further and discuss which defense is the best of all-time.
Here are the choices:
1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: It's difficult to pick one year for the dominating Steel Curtain of the 1970s. The 1976 Steelers led the NFL in fewest yards (237.4) and points (9.9). What made this defense special was holding its last nine opponents to 28 points. Eight players from this defense made the Pro Bowl that season, including Hall of Fame players Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount.
1985 Chicago Bears: Anchored by middle linebacker Mike Singletary, the Bears led the NFL in fewest yards (258.4) and points (12.4). Chicago ramped it up in the playoffs, shutting out its first two opponents in the playoffs before holding the New England Patriots to 10 points in the Super Bowl. Buddy Ryan's blitzing 46 defense sent five players to the Pro Bowl that year: Singletary, defensive end Richard Dent, defensive tackle Dan Hampton, linebacker Otis Wilson and safety Dave Duerson.
2000 Ravens: In the past quarter-century, only one defense has held opponents to fewer than 11 points per game. Ray Lewis' Ravens set NFL records for fewest points allowed (165) and fewest yards rushing allowed (970) in a 16-game schedule. Baltimore's defense allowed 16 points in four playoff games and became the first to shut out an offense in the Super Bowl since the 1975 Steelers.
2013 Seahawks: Led by the Legion of Boom, the Seahawks topped the NFL in fewest points (14.4), fewest yards (273.6) and fewest passing yards (172). Their crowing moment came in the Super Bowl, when they quieted NFL MVP Peyton Manning and the highest-scoring team in league history to eight points, which is nearly 30 points below the Denver Broncos' regular-season average. Three of the Seahawks' four starting defensive backs made the Pro Bowl: cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
After you have voted for one of these candidates (or you have someone else in mind), tell me why you made that decision by dropping me a line in my mailbag. It could be used on the blog later in the week.