1985 Bears featured one of the best defenses in NFL history


One of the biggest defensive names in the NFL was moved at the 2021 NFL trade deadline, as Von Miller was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams. 

Miller is going from one great defensive team to another. The All-Pro linebacker was a part of the 2015 Broncos’ defense that helped bring Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl. It is considered to be one of the best units of all time, holding Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to just 10 points in the Super Bowl. 

He now joins a Los Angeles Rams team that also has Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. It has all the makings of being one of the toughest defenses to go against this season. 

With defense on the mind, let’s take a look at what other teams in NFL history join the 2015 Broncos team as dominant defensive units. 

1962 Green Bay Packers

Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers reigned supreme in the 1960s, but 1962 is the year that stands out the most. The defense had five future Hall of Famers on it -- defensive linemen Willie Davis and Henry Jordan, linebacker Ray Nitschke, cornerback Herb Adderley and safety Willie Wood.

The Packers finished that season with a point differential of +267, the best out of any team in the ‘60s, as the defense allowed an average of 10.8 points per game. They held the New York Giants to just 10 points to win the NFL Championship game that season. 

1971 Minnesota Vikings

Alan Page changed the game for defensive players by becoming the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP. Page and the 1971 Vikings, known as the “Purple People Eaters,” led the league in points allowed per game with 9.9. They finished the season with three shutouts and only once allowed more than 20 points in a game. 

Despite their dominance, the Vikings couldn’t get to the big game, falling 20-12 to the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round. Still, the defensive line with Page and Carl Eller is one to remember. 

1972 Miami Dolphins

You would think that a defense that helped the team to the only perfect season in NFL history would get some more respect, but the 1972 Dolphins’ defense doesn't necessarily get the shine it deserves. 

Led by defensive end Bill Stanfill and linebacker Nick Buoniconti, the “No-Name Defense” of the ‘72 Dolphins held opponents to 12.2 points per game and had three shutouts during the season. In Super Bowl VII, the unit held Washington to just seven points to get the Dolphins the win. 

1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense terrorized offense in the 1970s and the 1976 squad was the best of them all. Giving up just 9.8 points per game, the “Steel Curtain” shutout teams five times that season and also had a stretch of three games allowing a total of nine points. 

While the Steelers won four Super Bowls during that decade, one did not come in ‘76. The Steelers lost the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship that season. Still, that defense led by Jack Lambert remains one of the greatest of all time. 

1985 Chicago Bears

There’s great defenses. There’s elite defenses. Then there’s the 1985 Chicago Bears

The “Monsters of the Midway” and their 46 defense gave offenses fits all year long. With Hall of Famers Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, and Mike Singletary, the Bears finished the season with 64 sacks and held offenses to just 12.4 points per game. That unit helped deliver Chicago its first title since 1963. 

1986 New York Giants

With Lawrence Taylor patrolling the middle of the field, the Giants’ 1986 defense was an elite group. They had 55 sacks and led the league in rushing defense. LT himself had 20.5 sacks that helped him win NFL MVP. 

It wasn’t just a one-man show, as Leonard Marshall and Harry Carson were big contributors, as well. And, at the helm of the defense was a young, bright mind that is now one of the best defensive coaches in the league, a guy by the name of Bill Belichick. 

1991 Philadelphia Eagles

The “Gang Green” defense of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1991 did everything in its power to keep the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes alive. The Eagles were the best defensive team in football, finishing with 55 sacks and 48 turnovers. They gave up an average of just 71 rushing yards per game. 

Unfortunately, with QB Randall Cunningham out for the year after tearing his ACL Week 1, the offense could not do enough to get Philadelphia in the playoffs. The team went 10-6 and ended up third in the NFC East. 

2000 Baltimore Ravens

With Ray Lewis leading the way, the 2000 Ravens defense was unstoppable. Opponents were held to 2.7 yards per rush as the Ravens allowed just 970 rushing yards all season. They also set an NFL record for fewest total points allowed in a 16-game season with 165. 

Baltimore had four shutouts during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Ravens allowed 16 points through the first three games and won Super Bowl XXXV by a score of 34-7 in the franchise’s first postseason appearance. 

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You’ve heard the term defense wins championships? Well the 2002 Bucs took that quite literally in Super Bowl XXXVII to cap off an incredible defensive season. Tampa Bay picked off Oakland’s Rick Gannon five times and scored three defensive touchdowns in the Super Bowl win. 

The season as a whole was headlined by the defense led by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and the Tampa 2 style of play. That unit led the league in total points and yards allowed en route to their championship. 

2013 Seattle Seahawks

The legendary “Legion of Boom” in Seattle was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks to play against. The secondary of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor allowed the fewest passing yards (2,752) and total yards (4,378) in the league. 

It’s fitting that to cap off the 2013 season, the Seahawks No. 1 defense took on the No. 1 offense in the Super Bowl, facing Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. Seattle dominated the game, winning Super Bowl XLVIII 43-8.

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