|Rick Bowmer/Associated Press|
|Ray Lewis earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXV, as the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the New York Giants, 34-7.|
The San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl thanks in part to a dominant defense, just like the Baltimore Ravens -- of 2000, that is. Which defense reigns supreme, the 49ers of 2012 or the Ravens of 12 years ago?
What do you think I'm going to say?This is a simple answer: It's not even close. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens not only led the league in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game, but also WON the Super Bowl. Even if the Niners win on Sunday, they finished second in scoring D this season, giving up more than 17 points per game. That's almost a touchdown more per game than the Ravens of 2000.
Not being biased toward a team I coached -- just stating simple facts.
2000 Ravens defense by a mile, especially given the Niners' recent woesThe Ravens of 2000. I don't think it's that close. These 49ers have given up at least 24 points in four of their past five games, including 30 or more in three of those contests. That Ravens team allowed 23 points TOTAL in four playoff games, including the 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
Those Ravens were a one-sided team. These 49ers are strong on both sides of the ball.
2000 Ravens might be the best defense everThe 2000 Ravens. This isn't remotely close. Like, at all. Baltimore gave up 165 points that season. By comparison, the much-ballyhooed '85 Bears allowed 195. The '12 49ers? 273.
There are so many other directions one can go here, but the bottom line is that the 2000 Ravens might be the best defense of all-time, at least for one season.
Rod Woodson-led secondary separates those Ravens from these NinersThis year's San Francisco 49ers defense is outstanding, but it doesn't compare to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens unit. First of all, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are All-Pro talents, but they don't compare to Ray Lewis in the peak of his prime. Also, the Ravens' secondary, led by Rod Woodson, was more reliable. We witnessed Julio Jones torching the 49ers' group in the first half in the NFC Championship Game.
Overall, those Ravens were better. I don't think there's much to debate.
Hard to argue against Baltimore, especially given one absurd statisticThe 49ers boast an excellent defense, but the group wasn't even the overall statistical leader in the NFL this year, let along the last decade. Those Ravens, meanwhile, fielded a defensive unit that didn't just limit yards -- it also constantly made big plays. In a game when stopping the run is the pride of any defensive unit, it's hard to ever argue against the Ravens' 2000 group. Baltimore gave up less than 1,000 rushing yards over the entire season, an absurd mark that occurred with Ray Lewis in his prime.
This San Francisco defense might be good, but it's not as good as Baltimore's 2000 group. Quite frankly, it might not even be close.
San Francisco's D is elite, but it doesn't compare to Baltimore's 2000 unitThe 49ers' defense is good. Very good. Elite. And not even close to the 2000 Ravens' unit.
Baltimore won it all solely on its defense. The Ravens had four shutouts during the regular season, and gave up more than 19 points in a game just twice. (San Francisco had seven such games in the 2012 regular season.) In fact, the Ravens allowed 10 points or less in 11 games that year. The offense, you might ask? Baltimore finished 12-4 despite a stretch where it failed to score a touchdown for five straight games. (See, New York Jets? All is not lost!)
Nothing you can say about the 49ers in 2012 is even close in comparison.
As usual, postseason performance carries the most weightI don't think it's close -- the 2000 Ravens defense was far superior.
That Baltimore group allowed 16 points in four playoff games. (I won't count the kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.) The 49ers allowed 17 points in one half of football against the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. This after the 49ers allowed 31 points at home to the Packers in their first playoff game.