01/21/12 — Stevens: Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships

View Archive

Stevens: Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 21, 2012 11:07 PM

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs are bound together by a common bond that is no longer appreciated by the average football fan who has been oversaturated by points, passing records and touchdowns.

The Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers are three of the last remaining NFL franchises that grasp the concept that offense may be sexy, but defense still wins championships.

The Ravens, Giants and 49ers combined to force 13 turnovers in last weekend's divisional playoffs. None of the teams play particularly exciting football, but they are each built upon formidable defenses, solid running games and quarterbacks who understand their respective roles.

In an era where New Orleans' quarterback Drew Brees, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New England's Tom Brady have become the face of the NFL, we as fans have adopted a "the more offense the better" philosophy. No longer do we view punishing defense, low-scoring games and two teams fighting for each and every yard as entertaining football.

The 11,356 points or 44.36 per game scored across the NFL in 2011 are the most ever scored in a single season in league history. Brees and Brady each broke Dan Marino's record for most passing yards in a season this year. New Orleans also set the mark with the most yards compiled by an offense in a single season. Green Bay racked up 560 points during the regular season, the second most in league history.

The Packers were also second in the league in takeaways with 24. However, Green Bay surrendered a league-worst 6,585 yards and set an NFL record for most passing yards allowed in a season. A defense so reliant on turnovers ran into trouble last Sunday when New York only gave the ball away once, and Eli Manning threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

Ironically, New Orleans and Green Bay are left watching the remainder of the playoffs from the same place the rest of us are -- the couch.

San Francisco, which trailed only Pittsburgh in fewest points allowed this year at 14.3, also tied an NFL record with fewest turnovers committed in a season with 10. The 49ers led the league in turnover margin with 38 takeaways.

Baltimore finished the regular season third in the league in both points and yards allowed per game. The Ravens forced 26 turnovers and kept opposing offenses off the field with a running game that was ninth in the league. New York and San Francisco both ranked in the top-eight in the league in rushing, a quality that can't be valued enough come playoff time as the weather worsens and the competition improves.

For those who prefer football to look more like a video game than the real thing, the remainder of the postseason may not be for you. No matter how you like your football one fact still holds true -- points and yards get you records, defense gets you rings.