John Elway: 'That's the best defense I've ever seen'

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Broncos' Super Bowl 50 championship squad was modeled after John Elway's Super Bowl XXXIII outfit, with a dominant defense taking pressure off of a declining Hall of Fame quarterback.

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It's no surprise, then, that Elway led Denver's post-game charge in equating Wade Phillips' defense with the best in NFL history.

"They just kept getting stronger and stronger in the playoffs," Elway told NFL Media's Kimberly Jones. "... I couldn't be more proud of them and I'm really happy for them because that's the best defense I've ever seen."

Cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. went a step farther, declaring Denver's defense the "best of all-time."

"We went through the gauntlet -- Brady twice, Ben twice, Cam," Harris reasoned, via SI.com's Chris Burke. "How can you not say we're one of the greatest defenses of all time?"

If boasts of that nature sound familiar, it's because we heard similar claims from the Seahawks' historically great defense just a year ago.

Post-Super Bowl evaluations are naturally laden with recency bias and short on perspective, neglecting defenses of yore such as the 1970s Steelers, the mid-1980s Bears, the 2000 Ravens and the 2002 Buccaneers.

The Broncos' star-studded unit did make history, however, carrying an offense that was first ever to win a Super Bowl despite getting outgained in every postseason game.

Two weeks after punishing Tom Brady more than any quarterback has been touched in the past decade, Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller led a swarming attack that hit 2015 MVP Cam Newton seven more times than he had been hit all season.

While Miller's two-game performance in the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl rivals any stretch in postseason history, this defense is special because it is stocked with difference-makers at every level.

Miller and DeMarcus Ware terrorize bookend tackles. Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson cave in the interior of offensive lines. Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall are among the league's most productive inside linebacker duos. The physical secondary stifles receivers downfield and punishes them over the middle.

"I'm glad they're on my team. They have been fun to watch all year," Peyton Manning told Jones after the game. "I kind of thought Von, and DeMarcus, and (Aqib) Talib and Chris Harris would win the MVP last night. I wanted them all to share a car. They could ride in the car together to practice. Von took it, but like I said those guys have been fun to watch all year and they were awesome tonight."

It's fitting that Miller became the first pass rusher to take home Super Bowl MVP honors since Richard Dent capped off the 1985 Bears' one-sided postseason run by leading Chicago to a frightening 46-10 undressing of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Denver's unit can vie with Seattle's for best of the decade, but the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears remain the gold standard for defensive dominance.

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