January 26, 1986, and January 26, 2003: Two of the best defenses to ever take the field in NFL history finished their seasons on these days with Super Bowl wins. The 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers destroyed offenses in record fashion all seson, and the Super Bowl was no different.
The Bears won Super Bowl XX by dismantling the New England Patriots, 46-10, while the Buccaneers shut down the high-powered Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The 1985 Chicago Bears featured 9 players on defense who would make the Pro Bowl. Head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coach Buddy Ryan created arguably the most intimidating defense ever assembled. Led by Hall of Famers Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary, Chicago only gave up 198 points in 16 games on the way to a 15-1 record. That's 12.3 points per game.
But the Bears were even better against the top competition in the playoffs, and that's what made them even more legendary. Chicago won its first two playoff games by combined scores of 45-0, recording a record back-to-back playoff shutouts. In the Super Bowl, the Bears made the 11-5 Patriots look silly: the Bears set Super Bowl records for sacks (seven), fewest rushing yards allowed (seven), and margin of victory (36 points). The Bears had a 44-3 lead in the fourth quarter. And let's not forget this team could score on offense with Walter Payton at running back. It's no wonder many consider this team the best ever. Richard Dent was the Super Bowl MVP with 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Just watch every Patriots play on offense during the game to see how dominant it was:
Tampa Bay was built upfront with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, and Derrick Brooks anchoring the linebackers with John Lynch and Ronde Barber in the secondary. They held 11 opponents to 10 points or fewer and only gave up an average of 12.2 points per game against them in a season when the league average was 21.7. Not only that, but they held opposing passers to a 48.4 rating in a year when the next best defense held opposing passers to a rating of 68.7. Dominant. And it was no different in the Super Bowl.
The Raiders (11-5) came in with the league's No. 1 offense with quarterback Rich Gannon, receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Oakland was actually a 4-point favorite. But they were quickly overwhelmed by their former coach Jon Gruden's new team, Tampa Bay (12-4). Gannon threw a Super Bowl record five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. The Buccaneers also sacked Gannon five times, and scored 34 unanswered points to build a 34–3 lead late in the third quarter. Safety Dexter Jackson was named the game's MVP with two interceptions.
Here's to you both the 1985 Chicago Bears and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and your Super Bowl wins on January 26.