Ranking this Seattle Seahawks defense (14.4 points per game, 274 yards per game allowed) alongside the ’85 Bears (12.3 PPG, 258 YPG), ’00 Baltimore Ravens (9.9 PPG, 237 YPG) or ’76 Pittsburgh Steelers (9.9 PPG, 237 YPG) is silly but not unusual. No. 1 defenses routinely are compared to the greatest; it adds gravity and import to the moment.
More relevant, as I discussed in some detail in the days leading up to the game, is what the Seahawks demonstrated. The defense that effectively annihilated one of statistically greatest offenses in NFL history (another debate for another time) was a simple 4-3 scheme anchored in its base form by three jumbo linemen and one smallish speed rusher. When the situation called for nickel, the Seahawks went smaller and dropped 270-pound end Michael Bennett inside at tackle. Edge rushers Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons are roughly the same size as the Bears' Shea McClellin.
Seattle lives with a rotation of seven rushmen; somewhere Lovie Smith is smiling. The Seahawks only sacked Peyton Manning once and were credited with a modest four hurries/hits. But the pressure was constant, and speed and flow to the ball will always work.
This was the template established by the New York Giants team that took down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots two years ago, holding a 513-point team to 17 with a pressure front four. And shut down the 589-point 2007 New England team with 14 points.