Many people around the league consider the 2000 Ravens to be the best defense ever. That defense carried Trent Dilfer and its anemic offense all the way to the Super Bowl, dominating every offense it played along the way in the postseason.
If I would have told you two years ago that a Peyton Manning-led Broncos team would follow a similar formula in 2015, you would have told me that there is no way, in today’s high-flying, modern, contact-allergic NFL, that a team as defensively oriented as the Ravens could push its way to the Super Bowl, no matter how good compared to the rest of the league. When I added that Peyton Manning would be even worse than Trent Dilfer was in 2000, you would have probably tried to have me committed, and you’d have plenty of people
Of course, I would have been right on both counts. As Vinny Iyer told us before Super Bowl weekend, Trent Dilfer’s Super Bowl season was actually better than Peyton Manning’s season this year.
“Dilfer had an anemic 76.6 passer rating, with 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in the regular season. That’s MVP-caliber stuff compared with what Manning did in 2015.
Manning rated a Tony Banks-like 67.9 before the playoffs. In going 10-2 as a starter toggling with Brock Osweiler, Manning had a ridiculously bad 11 TDs to 19 INTs.”
But it couldn’t have been that bad during the postseason, right? The league is too pass-happy and the great offenses that he’d face in the postseason would force him to at least have one game with great numbers, right?
Wrong. Dilfer and the Ravens’ offense in 2000 was better than the Broncos, even in the Super Bowl.
“Dilfer actually put up slightly better numbers 15 years ago than Manning, when he quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. He threw for 153 yards (12 more yards than Manning) with one touchdown and no interceptions. Dilfer’s passing rating of 80.9 was far better than that of Manning.
On Sunday, Manning hurt the Broncos more than he helped them. He threw an interception after Denver drove to the Carolina 24-yard line in the second quarter. He then got the ball stripped away in the fourth quarter, a turnover that led to the Panthers’ only points in the second half. One of the telling points in the game was when Denver ran the ball on third-and-9 in the fourth quarter despite holding only a six-point lead…
That 2000 Ravens defense is now removed from the Super Bowl record books, thanks to Manning and the Broncos. Denver won with 194 yards on offense, the fewest of any team to win a Super Bowl. The previous low was 244 by the 2000 Ravens in Super Bowl 35.”
Some might argue that this year’s Broncos’ defense was better than the Ravens’ historic 2000 squad. Since the Broncos offense was worse than the 2000 Ravens in an era that relies so heavily on scoring points, they’ll use that to argue the more modern defense has to be better.
That claim, however, doesn’t look at the complete picture. The Broncos did a great job containing the offenses they played against. They faced some tough ones, for sure, and they more than held their own. But the Ravens stonewalled all four of their playoff opponents, allowing a total of 23 points, 21 points less than what the Broncos allowed. And the Ravens played one fewer game.
So don’t let the effects of recency bias get to you, Ravens fans. They won’t last. The 2000 defense is better than the 2015 Broncos and the best of all time.