• TGT on YouTube
  • About TGT
  • The TGT Team
  • How TGT rates
  • Responsible Gambling Advice
  • Contact Our Team
  • Writers Wanted
  • Content Disclaimer
  • Affiliate Disclosure
Contains commercial content
Billboard Left
Billboard Left
The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top-15 Defenses in NFL History

Top-15 Defenses in NFL History

What does your list look like?
Publish Date: 04/25/2022
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

The Greatest defenses in NFL history!

15) 1977 Denver Broncos

Led by OLB Tom Jackson, ILB Randy Gradishar, and DE Lyle Alzado, the Orange Crush defense was a force from 1977-81. In 1977, the defense gave up only 148 points (10.6 ppg) to lead Denver to its first Super Bowl appearance, a 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. C

14) 1971 Dallas Cowboys

1971 Dallas Cowboys featured two Hall of Fame inductees: DT Bob Lilly, and CB Mel Renfro. Other standouts were DT Jethro Pugh and linebackers Lee Roy Jordan and Chuck Howley. Crowning achievement was a 24-3 destruction of the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

13) 1986 New York Giants

New York Giants, affectionately known as the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew,” were one of the most feared defenses in the National Football League. The strength of the unit was at linebacker, where two Hall of Famers roamed: OLB Lawrence Taylor and MLB Harry Carson.

Carson was the brains of the defense—the run stuffer and the captain who kept everyone in line.

Taylor was the wild animal, let out of his cage every Sunday to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Taylor, Carson, OLB Carl Banks, and ILB Gary Reasons formed the best linebacker corps of the 1980s.

12) 1977 Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys defense was led by Hall of Fame DT Randy White, while defensive ends Harvey Martin and Ed Jones and defensive backs Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris were perennial All-Pro selections.

The beating they administered to Broncos QB Craig Morton in Super Bowl XII was legendary and one of the most dominant defensive performances in Super Bowl history.

11) 1972 Miami Dolphins

This defense produced only one Hall of Famer (LB Nick Buoniconti) but had solid All-Pros in SS Dick Anderson, FS Jake Scott, DT Manny Fernandez, and DE Bill Stanfill. From 1971-73, the No-Name Defense surrendered just 11.8 points per game.

Super Bowl VII shut out the Washington Redskins potent offense the entire game, missed credit because of a special teams touchdown given up on Garo Yepremian’s ill advised pass that was taken by Redskin great Mike Bass for a touchdown.

10) 2015 Denver Broncos

They became the fourth team in the last 20 years to defeat (in the playoffs) three teams ranked in the top-five in regular-season scoring, per STATS. They held the Patriots and Steelers, who collectively averaged 27.8 points per game, to 17 points per game. The Panthers entered the Super Bowl averaging 40 points per game in the playoffs. They scored 10 on the Broncos.

9) 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This team is the reason that the term “Tampa 2” became part of NFL vernacular. That refers to the defense employed by head coach Tony Dungy, one that took full advantage of having an unstoppable Warren Sapp upfront, 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Derrick Brooks at linebacker and guys like John Lynch and Ronde Barber in the secondary. Each level of this defense seemed more impenetrable than the last.

The Buccaneers led the league by allowing the least points and yards during their Super Bowl season, then picked off five passes and scored three defensive touchdowns in a 48-21 title-clinching victory over the Raiders. Dwight Smith was responsible for two of those pick-sixes (Brooks had the other) … and didn’t even win MVP. Safety Dexter Jackson, who had two INTs of his own, nabbed that award.

8) 1971 Minnesota Vikings

The Purple people eaters’ talent up front was incredible: Hall of Famers Carl Eller and Alan Page, along with one-time Hall of Fame finalist Jim Marshall and two-time Pro Bowler Gary Larsen. Three Vikings also had at least six interceptions that season, paced by seven from Charlie West, also a dangerous kick returner. Paul Krause, another future Hall of Famer, finished one behind West.

Minnesota allowed just two teams to score 20 points during the 14-game regular season and hung three shutouts on the scoreboard.

7) 1962 Green Bay Packers

The Packer defense of the 1960s produced five world championships—including the first two Super Bowl titles—and a record five Hall of Famers: DT Henry Jordan, DE Willie Davis, MLB Ray Nitschke, CB Herb Adderley, and S Willie Wood.

The 1962 team gave up just 10.8 points per game and posted three shutouts while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 43.5 rating.

6) 2013 Seattle Seahawks

In an era of offensive firepower unlike anything the NFL has ever seen, the 2013 Seahawks carried the torch for building a team around defense first. All they did in Super Bowl XLVIII was absolutely neuter the league’s top-rated (and record-setting) Denver offense.

Richard Sherman often stole the spotlight, but this defense was so much more than just one player — a point hammered home when 2011 seventh-round pick Malcolm Smith, a player making less than $600K this season, captured the Super Bowl MVP. Some might argue that Sherman’s not even the best player in Seattle’s secondary; safety Earl Thomas could stake a claim to that spot.

The Seahawks’ Super Bowl success (as with much of what they accomplished as the league’s top defense) actually started up front, with a pass rush bolstered by Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril off the edges. Behind them, emerging stars Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright helped form a tremendously fast linebacking corps. Seattle’s D played with a chip on its shoulder and laid a big hit at every possible turn.

5) 1969 Kansas City Chiefs

Maybe the most forgotten great team in pro football history, perhaps their place in the AFL has limited the ’69 Chiefs in the “greatest ever” placement. Of course, as already mentioned, this team whipped Minnesota in Super Bowl IV, holding the Vikings to 239 yards of offense in a 23-7 win. That was par for the course that season; the Chiefs led the AFL in defense at 177 points allowed over 14 games.

Five members of this defense went on to claim spots in Canton: Emmitt Thomas, Johnny Robinson, Willie Lanier, Jim Lynch and Bobby Bell. Thomas and Robinson combined for 17 interceptions during the ’69 season. Just two teams all season, counting the playoffs, managed to hit the 300-yard mark against the K.C. defense.

4) 1975 Los Angeles Rams

 Statistically, one of the finest defenses ever at 135 points allowed over 14 regular-season games (third-least behind the ’77 Falcons and ’69 Vikings). The main problem here is that the Rams were torched in the playoffs by Dallas’ Roger Staubach to the tune of four TD passes in a 37-7 loss. But at least during the regular season, few groups have been better. Los Angeles permitted all of 32 points combined over its final six games, with only the Bears hitting double digits (38-10 Rams win) during that stretch.

Defensive linemen Jack Youngblood and Merlin Olsen, both Hall of Famers, led the charge. They were joined in the Pro Bowl by five fellow Rams defenders: Fred Dryer, Jack Reynolds, Isiah Robertson, Dave Elmendorf and Nolan Cromwell. Safety Bill Simpson might have had a case, as well — he picked off six passes and recovered five fumbles that season.

From 1973-to 80, the Rams won seven consecutive NFC West titles, secured a Super Bowl berth in 1979, and finished in the top 10 in total defense in seven of those eight seasons.

In 1975, the defense surrendered just 9.6 points per game, the third-best in NFL history.

3) 2000 Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens allowed just 165 points during the 2000 regular season. They pitched a 16-0 shutout in Pittsburgh in Week 1, then tossed up three more goose eggs over the course of the regular season. The culmination of Baltimore’s performance came in Super Bowl XXXV, when it picked off four Kerry Collins passes en route to a 34-7 beatdown of the Giants.

This season may have marked the height of Lewis’ extended period of greatness. He won the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year award and then Super Bowl MVP honors.There was talent all around him, too: safety Rod Woodson, pass-rushing linebacker Peter Boulware, the sturdy DT tandem of Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. Corners Duane Starks and Chris McAlister also had career years in 2000.

2) 1985 Chicago Bears

The ’85 Bears are arguably the best defense ever put on the field for a single season. The stats are overwhelming: a 15-1 regular season mark, a 12.5 point scoring average, holding seven opponents under 10 points, and racking up 64 sacks.

The defense featured two players in the Hall of Fame: MLB Mike Singletary and DE Dan Hampton. DE Richard Dent, DT Steve McMichael, OLB Otis Wilson, OLB Wilber Marshall, and S Dave Duerson were All-Pros.

1) 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

“The Steel Curtain” was the most dominant, awe-inspiring, feared defense in the history of the game. No team could stop it, and many didn’t even want to go up against it.

The Steelers defense of the 1970s had arguably the greatest front seven ever assembled on one team.

Joe Greene (DE), L.C. Greenwood (DE), Dwight White (DT), and Ernie Holmes (DT) made up the front four, while Jack Lambert manned the middle linebacker slot, with Jack Ham and Andy Russell patrolling the outside.

A record 10 Steeler defenders made the Pro Bowl during the ’70s: Greene, Greenwood, White, Lambert, Ham, Russell, Mel Blount (CB), J.T. Thomas (CB), Glen Edwards (FS), and Mike Wagner (SS).

Greene, Blount, Ham, and Lambert are enshrined in Canton, second only to the Packers for most defenders on one team in the Hall.

In 1976, after a 1-4 start, the Steelers’ defense surrendered only 28 points in the final nine games. Eight Steeler defenders made the Pro Bowl that season. Between 1973-78, opposing quarterbacks had only a 45.0 passer rating. They also played a large part of the season without Terry Bradshaw, the defense pulled together and gave up next to nothing with Bradshaw out, culminating in a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in a snowstorm in Cincinnati to win the division.

Billboard Left
Billboard Left
Read Also
Come Fly with me: How the 1988-89 Chicago Bulls pushed forward to an NBA dynasty.
Find the best sportsbook to bet on the NBA Playoffs! Prologue: By ...
Esteban de Jesus, Roberto Duran y AIDS (1972-89)
Many of us dream of celebrity sports fame, but only cruel individuals ...
BetMGM Promo
Remembering the 1977 Broncos and the Orange Crush Defense!
The Denver Broncos, like several franchises, did not have a good start ...
Every NFL team’s best player not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame- NFC East
The Pro Football Hall of Fame houses the greatest players in NFL ...
Marvin Hagler and the Curious Case of Sneaky Pea and Caveman Lee
Back to the Stone Ages He was middleweight champion of the world ...
Predicting the next five Pro Football Hall of Fame classes
Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is ...
Ranking the top 200 players in the NFL ahead of the 2021 season
This list isn’t based solely on performances from the 2020 NFL season. ...
Top 100 NFL free agents entering the 2021 offseason
Below is a list of the top 100 free agents available this ...
Notable Pro Football Senior Committee Hall of Fame candidates for 2020
The Pro Football Hall of fame recently announced that it could induct ...
Sportsbook of the month
PointsBet - Get your Bonus Bet now! Get your Bonus Bet now!
Latest News
Drew Allar taking over as the signal caller at Penn State
Happy Valley Is Witnessing A Change As Sean ...
The State of Indiana’s Top 20 Basketball players of all time
This list will comprise anybody born in Indiana ...
Lopez vs. Conlan & Lara vs. Wood 2: Featherweight Festivities 
  The Mexican invasion commences this Saturday in ...
Our Latest YouTube Videos
Video: Boxing History 101: Randall
Boxing History 101: Randall "Tex" Cobb the Man who shut up Howard Cosell
Video: 1919 Cincinnati Reds: True Champions
1919 Cincinnati Reds: True Champions
Video: Boxing History 101: Abe Attell A Complex Champion
Boxing History 101: Abe Attell A Complex Champion
Betting Tips
05/27/2023 - 8:30 pm
Kaseya Arena
Celtics to Cover
Celtics -3
05/25/2023 - 8:30 pm
TD Garden
Miami to Cover
05/16/2023 - 8:30 pm
Ball Arena
Nuggets to Cover
Sportsbook of the month
PointsBet - Get your Bonus Bet now! Get your Bonus Bet now!
Top Betting Sites
Top Betting Bonuses
FanDuel Review
PointsBet Review
Bet365 Review
4.5/5 Review
Unibet Review
FanDuel Bonus
Get up to $1,000 back in bonus bets
T&Cs apply
PointsBet Bonus
5 x $50Bet Credits
T&Cs apply
Bet365 Bonus
Bet $1 & Get $200 in Bonus Bets
T&Cs apply
Bet $1 and Get $200 in Bonus Bets at bet365. Deposit required. Bonus Bets winnings are added to Bonus Bets balance. Bonus Bet wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+ Bonus
100% up to $500
T&Cs apply
Unibet Bonus
100% up to $100
T&Cs apply
Our Team
Mike GoodpasterAuthor IconJosh SchwartzSamuel TeetsSimon Briffa
Mike Goodpaster
Mike Goodpaster
Chief Editor
Author Icon
Christopher Carlson
Content Writer
Josh Schwartz
Josh Schwartz
Samuel Teets
Samuel Teets
US Sports Veteran
Simon Briffa
Simon Briffa
Sports Editor
Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis
Chris Benedict
Chris Benedict
Author Icon
Malik Zorrok
Author Icon
Daniel Kornhauser
John Raspanti
John Raspanti
Author Icon
Buddy Gibbs
Brian Coburn
Brian Coburn
Peter Bonahoom
Peter Bonahoom
Find out what the legends have to say about sports this week....

If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”

Contact us:

Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or

This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.

Move to Top
Close Exclusive Bonus
5% Rakeback
Promo Code
Visit Site
T&Cs apply, 18+
Payment Methods
  • Exclusive promo code: TGTSOCIAL
  • Play Plinko, Hilo, Crash and more!
  • Get Stake Cash bonuses every day!
Stake Originals
Your Promo Code:
The bonus offer of was already opened in an additional window. If not, you can open it also by clicking the following link:
Visit Site