Top Ten Single Season Defenses in NFL History : #2 2000 Baltimore Ravens

The bludgeoning Baltimore Ravens in 2000 was one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and lands at #2 on The Chancellor of Football’s list. Aside from winning Super Bowl XXXV, their greatest accomplishment was setting the record for fewest points allowed in a season with 165. Do you realize allowing 3, 10, and 3 in the AFC playoffs, that in 19 games they still bested the old 16 game record of the ’86 Bears 187 points with only 181?? Remember the Giants touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV was a kick return and not allowed by the defense. Still that is 188 points in 20 games!!

Ray Lewis' greatest season was the 2000 campaign.

Ray Lewis’ greatest season was the 2000 campaign.

To fully appreciate the Ravens season as a whole you have to understand how anemic an offense they carried. Their 16th ranked offense was the 2nd lowest of all Super Bowl champions.

For the season they were ranked 2nd overall allowing 247.9 yards per game. Yet #1 against the run setting the record for fewest yards allowed rushing in a 16 game season with only 970. Yielding a paltry 2.7 yds per carry when league average was 4.0. Baltimore held 11 of their 16 regular season opponents to 10 or fewer points. Four of which were shutouts. By the way, they also held all four of their postseason opponents to 10 or fewer for a total of 15!!

  • 2000 Baltimore Ravens allowed 970 yds rushing
  • 1985 Chicago Bears allowed 1,319 yds rushing
  • 1991 Philadelphia Eagles allowed 1,136 yds rushing
  • 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers allowed 1,457 yds rushing *14 games
  • 1977 Dallas Cowboys allowed 1,651 yds rushing *14 games
Boulware off the edge was a staple of Baltimore's pass rush.

Boulware off the edge was a staple of Baltimore’s pass rush.

This was a physically imposing defense that started with mountains in the middle in DTs Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams. Keeping blockers off 2000’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Ray Lewis. Who roamed free garnering 137 tackles, 3 sacks and an interception. It was one of the most dominating performances by a defensive player in league history. From The [[_]]

Fellow Linebackers Jamie Sharper (72 tackles /5 forced fumbles) and Peter Boulware clogged passing lanes, stuffed the run, and blitzed effectively. Boulware had 7 sacks as a Nickle rushing end. DE Rob Burnett led the team with (10.5 sacks) was a holdover from the Cleveland Browns days. He and fellow DE Michael McCrary were steady rushers that couldn’t be moved off the ball.

The most underappreciated aspect of this defense was the secondary. Led by Hall of Fame Safety Rod Woodson (77 tackles/ 4 forced fumbles /4 ints) this group was never out of position. They ranked 8th against the pass in 2000 yet were 2nd in passing TDs allowed with 11 while snatching 17 of the team’s 23 interceptions. Chris McAlister (4ints) and Duane Starks (6ints – The [[_]]) were top shelf corners and SS Kim Herring, Corey Harris, and Robert Bailey (The [[_]]) pounded TEs and slot receivers when teams went to multiple receiver sets.

During the season the Ravens were 1-1 against Pro Bowl quarterbacks and 2-0 against top 10 offenses. They held the NFL’s #2 offense to 3 points in their AFC Wildcard win. Yet this group was ranked #2 in 2000 and on their way to Super Bowl XXXV when they took on the #1 defense in the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round.

After vanquishing the Titans the Ravens had to go on the road to face the Oakland Raiders for the AFC Championship. In Oakland they faced the 6th best offense in football and the #1 rushing offense with 154.4 yards per game. Strength vs strength in a battle to make it to Super Bowl XXXV.

With their 16-3 win, you do realize this was only the 2nd time in the Super Bowl era a team hosted the conference championship and couldn’t score a touchdown, right?? Only the Baltimore Colts performed this with their 34-0 win over Art Modell’s Cleveland Browns for the 1968 NFL Championship prior to Super Bowl III. That is only twice in 70 games! The 2000 Baltimore Ravens were the greatest defensive 11 in NFL history and are #2 on The Chancellor of Football’s list. Why weren’t they #1?? That will be explained in the next article.

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At the 2016 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, ran into current Cincinnati Head Coach Marvin Lewis. The Defensive Coordinator of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens record setting defense.

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Top Ten Single Season Defenses in NFL History : #3 2013 Seattle Seahawks

As we’re winding down this series of greatest single season defenses, the first question asked was where did the ’13 Seahawks belong in this group??

The Legion of Boom reigns supreme after 2013.

The Legion of Boom reigns supreme after 2013.

Do you realize Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith not only wasn’t a week 1 starter, but isn’t guaranteed to be one at Outside Linebacker for 2014?? He replaced  KJ Wright #50 who had been injured. Its the depth and lack of drop off in production that makes this group great. They ranked #1 and were led by The Legion of Boom secondary which boasts 3 Pro Bowl Players.

Starting with defending Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year Richard Sherman, who led the NFL with 8 interceptions. He returned those for 158 yards and a significant week 4 touchdown. He also was 7th on the team in tackles with 48, defensed 17 passes and recovered 2 fumbles.

Kam Chancellor's thunderous hit on Vernon Davis a year ago is still the defense's seminal moment in becoming the NFl's most feared defense.

Kam Chancellor’s thunderous hit on Vernon Davis a year ago is still the defense’s seminal moment in becoming the NFl’s most feared defense.

By the time you add Pro Bowl FS Earl Thomas (105 tackles/ 5 ints/ 11 pass defensed/ 2 forced fumbles) & the thunderous shots by Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor (99 tackles / 3 ints/ 12 passes defensed/ 1 forced fumble) you have one of the best secondaries in history. That’s what a championship can elevate you to. Three of four in the secondary made the Pro Bowl.

This group was #1 overall (273.6 ypg.) while finishing #1 against the pass allowing 172 yards per game. Those stats were 28 and 22 ypg. better than the defenses ranked 2nd. Quarterbacks finished with a 63.4 rating in a modern game where the rules have been altered to favor the pass. How does that rank against other great defenses??

  • 2013 Seahawks passer rating allowed 63.4
  • 1985 Chicago Bears passer rating allowed 51.2
  • 1991 Philadelphia Eagles passer rating allowed 52.1
  • 2000 Baltimore Ravens passer rating allowed 62.5
Chancellor brings the intimidation factor. At 232 lbs. he hits with the force of a linebacker.

Chancellor brings the intimidation factor. At 232 lbs. he hits with the force of a linebacker.

For the season they held 7 opponents to 10 points or less and one of those was the 4th best offense in football, the New Orleans Saints.  An 8th team held to less than 10 was the record setting #1 offense of the Broncos in the Super Bowl when they could only muster 8 points. The highest scoring team in history with 606 points averaging 37.8 per game, was held scoreless until the last play of the 3rd quarter. By then they were down 36-0.

Avril terrorized quarterbacks rushing them from the front side.

Avril terrorized quarterbacks rushing them from the front side.

Before their 43-8 destruction of Denver, they bested Brees and the Saints in the playoffs were they held them to 15 points as well.  They did lose to one Pro Bowl quarterback in Andrew Luck but that is offset by shutting down the 5,477 yards and 55 TD record setting Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII. So 3-1 against Pro Bowl QBs and holding 2 of them to less than 10 points is strong defensive football. Keep in mind the defense was missing CB Brandon Browner (suspension) and LB KJ Wright (injury) or the Broncos may have been shut out.

By the time we get to the pass rush of Cliff Avril (8.5 sacks) and Michael Bennett(8 sacks) rushing side by side from the strong side, this group plays front 7 by committee. Utilizing blitzes they garnered 44 sacks while surrendering an NFL best 231 points. In contrast the 1971 Dallas Cowboys who won Super Bowl VI or the Doomsday Defense gave up 222 in 14 games.

So yes The Legion of Boom belongs on this list. To do it in the modern NFL where if you sneeze near a receiver it’s a penalty, they gave a world class performance. One of the best in history and #3 on The Chancellor of Football’s list.

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