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As members of the Ravens’ Super Bowl defense assembled at M&T Bank Stadium last Sunday, they still had that trademark brashness.
Ten years after not allowing any offensive points in their Super Bowl XXXV championship, the Ravens’ 2000 defense still strongly believes it’s the best ever.
“Everybody knows who was the best single-season defense was,” linebacker Jamie Sharper said. “They talk about Pittsburgh and their defense, but we have records of points and all that. Everybody knows that hands down it’s us because we led the whole team by our defensive play.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had the league’s No. 1 defense four of nine seasons. They’ve also won two Super Bowl trophies.
The Ravens’ 2000 defense surrendered just 165 points, an average of 10.3 per game.
No defense has come close to that mark over the past 10 years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers posted the next-best mark in 2002, allowing 12.2 points per game. Pittsburgh’s finest season, in terms of points per game, since then was in 2001 (13.2).
If no team since 2000 trumps the Ravens, then the comparison goes back to the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Bears allowed 12.4 points and 258.4 yards per game. They also notched 34 interceptions en route to a Super Bowl title.
But former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary points to the Bears’ offense as part of the reason why Chicago’s defense was so good. Chicago’s offense averaged 28.5 points per game in 2000, second in the league. The Ravens managed 20.8 points, 14th in the NFL, in 2000.
“We know we were absolutely the best defense ever,” McCrary said. “The Bears, they were blowing teams out, so they forced teams to pass. Anybody can go after the QB if you know they’re going to pass.
“Fans only got to see about 25 percent of our defensive plays. We had blitzes that you wouldn’t believe. Because we were always in games that were close, we had to play conservative, because one play, if we got beat, could cost us the game.”