Defense hasn't always won championships

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
9:22
AM ET
A collection of interesting Super Bowl research discoveries from the past 24 hours

Super Bowl XLV will pit the teams that ranked first (Pittsburgh Steelers) and second (Green Bay Packers) in the NFL in points allowed during the regular season, the first time that has happened since Super Bowl XVII between the Redskins and Dolphins.

Here are the last instances of the top teams in “scoring defense” meeting in the championship round in the other three major sports.

In baseball, the last World Series pitting the teams that allowed the fewest runs in the major leagues was in 1995, when the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians in six games, winning the only title for a vaunted pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.

The 1999 Stanley Cup Finals between the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars is better known for ending in controversial fashion, on Brett Hull’s overtime goal in Game 6 of the series. That Stars team allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL, trailing only the Sabres, who were led by their goalie, Dominik Hasek.

The 2005 NBA Finals pitted the Detroit Pistons against the San Antonio Spurs, with the No. 2 ranked Spurs defense prevailing 81-74 at home in Game 7 to win that series, 4-3.
---
The Packers are just the second team under the NFL's current playoff format (since 1990) to make the Super Bowl as a No. 6 seed. They join the Steelers, who in 2005 won three road games and then won Super Bowl XL.

In the other pro sports which seed teams in conference playoffs, here are the lowest-seeded teams to make the championship round.

In the NBA, the 1999 New York Knicks are the only 8-seed to make the NBA Finals. They barely made the postseason in the lockout-shortened schedule. But they won a dramatic five-game series over the Miami Heat on Allan Houston's game-winner with 0.8 seconds left in Game 5. They swept the Atlanta Hawks and beat the Indiana Pacers to advance to the NBA Finals where they lost in five games to the Spurs.

In the NHL, the 2006 Edmonton Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup Final as a No. 8 seed. They knocked out the President's Trophy winners, the Detroit Red Wings, in six games, and then beat the No. 5 seed San Jose Sharks and the No. 6 seed Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to win the West. Their luck would run out as they lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Final.
---
A little-known NFL record was set on December 20, 2009, in the lone regular season game pitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 886 combined passing yards (503 from Roethlisberger) was the highest total in a game that featured no interceptions.

The teams combined for 35 points and four lead changes in the fourth quarter alone, with the Steelers winning, 37-36. The game was decided on the extra point following a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace with no time remaining.
---
Rodgers has a history of playing extremely well indoors, which makes him a good fit for Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.

He’s thrown 25 touchdown passes with just six interceptions in 12 career indoor games and his passer rating is the highest in indoor games (including playoffs) since 2008.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?