Defense Wins Championships…Unless Your Name is Tom Brady

Posted: January 21, 2012 by Terry Carlton in Football, NFL
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College football has never been my sport of choice (I mean, one foot in bounds for a catch? C’mon), but the defensive battles between Alabama and LSU got me excited for the defensive renaissance that took place in their matchups. Shouldn’t they just have played another game, a rubber match, to determine the BCS champ? Yet I digress, and this weekend is all about the NFL, a reward for us diehard fans who want to see the game played the right way, defenses winning games, a return to football in its pure form and superstars being born on both sides of the ball.

As I write this, NFL Championship Sunday is tomorrow. Four teams remain in the quest to be crowned Super Bowl Champion. Beyond the intrigue of a potential Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh showdown in Indianapolis, there lies a possible matchup of one of the NFL’s greatest defenses of the last decade+ vs. the San Francisco 49ers whose defense belongs in its own category.

San Francisco hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in its past 36 games, a streak that dates to Nov. 22, 2009, and eclipses the league’s second-longest streak (Miami, 12). That, along with the feat that the 49ers hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown in 15 straight games, matching the 1985-86 Bears for the longest streak since 1970. It took until very late this season for that TD streak to end, but it will be vital if the Niners are to move past Eli and the Giants. A dominant performance in the NFC Championship will put them in a class with the ’01 Ravens, a number of the Steel Curtain defenses from the ’70s and yes, our ’85 Bears.

That’s right, Bears fans, the current Niners defense is drawing comparisons to our beloved ’85 Bears. They’re that good. I was two years old in 1985, so all I have to go on is word of mouth and highlights, but hot damn if San Francisco isn’t the best group of run-stoppers I’ve ever seen.

They’ll need every ounce of defense if they are to overcome the suddenly hot New York Giants. That’s the story in professional sports though. Get hot at the right time, and the sky’s the limit.

Over in the AFC, Baltimore has a formidable foe to overcome in the still dominant New England Patriots. Tom Brady continues to tear shit up, shredding so-called top defenses, spreading the ball and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game.

New England’s defense has been their Achilles heel all year, but the offense more than makes up for its deficiencies, something of which few teams have the luxury. Even with Ed Reed (and his motivational tactics to fire up goofball QB Joe Flacco) and Ray Lewis anchoring The D and performing at a high level, The Pats are too good to lose this late in the season.

Any sports fan has heard the phrase, “Defense wins championships” or some variation of the phrase. If that is an absolute truth, then wouldn’t the Bears have won at least a few more in between 1985 and now? Our current, yet aging defensive core has definitely had some championship-caliber seasons, but we’ve only managed to appear in one Super Bowl since our illustrious victory in SBXX. If defense wins championships, wouldn’t the Ravens have been back to at least another Super Bowl since their victory in SBXXXV?

San Francisco was able to match Drew Brees and New Orleans’ high-octane offense, a rare offensive shootout by a team known for its stifling D. I still have yet to hear a fitting name for Vernon Davis’ game-winning TD catch. Anyone?

New England beat the shit out of a very good Denver defense last week, and showed anyone watching that they can and shall impose their championship will on any given opponent on any given Sunday.

That being said, I’m splitting the difference between defense and offense, so to speak: San Francisco will torch New York 30-10, and New England will beat Baltimore 31-17.  The Harbaugh sibling rivalry will have to wait at least one more year. But, hey! At least we can root for a Chicago QB in the Super Bowl, right?

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Comments
  1. Matthew Kohl says:

    I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to root for Jim Harbaugh again. I am, however, taking San Fransisco all the way. I have to.

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