Talk of Fame Network
The readers have spoken, and they make the 1985 Chicago Bears the best defense in NFL history. Only one problem: None of our experts agreed with them.
While the Bears scored a narrow victory over the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers, winning 43 percent of the vote to the Steelers’ 36.8, they didn’t win over Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges or Clark Judge. Gosselin and Borges favored the 1969 Chiefs, while Judge voted for the Steel Curtain.
All are members of the 46-person Hall of Fame board of selectors.
“(The Chiefs),” said Gosselin, “are the only defense of the Super Bowl era to finish No.1 across the board in defense — run, pass, total and scoring. (They) went to New York and held the defending Super Bowl-champion Jets to six points in the AFL semifinals; then went to Oakland and held the AFL’s highest-scoring team to seven points in the league championship game; then held the NFL’s highest-scoring team to seven points in the Super Bowl. Those Chiefs had five Hall of Famers on defense with gold jackets at every level.”
With five Hall of Famers, the Chiefs have one more than the ’76 Pittsburgh Steelers on defense, and Judge, for one, doesn’t get it. Those Steelers, he pointed out, won four Super Bowls, with the ’76 defense widely considered their best. Not only did it include eight Pro Bowlers, but over their last nine starts, all victories, the Steelers allowed 28 points … 28, for crying out loud … with five shutouts and only one opponent (Houston) producing a touchdown.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, put up 234.
People forget that mostly because those Steelers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. What they also forget is that Pittsburgh went into the AFC championship game without running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier — each of whom gained 1,000 yards that season. Both were sidelined with injuries.
“There is no question in my mind,” said Judge, “that the Steelers would’ve had one for the thumb had they played. I have never seen a defense that physical and that impenetrable before or after … and, yes, that includes the 1985 Chicago Bears.”
Borges has. He threw in his vote with Gosselin for the ’69 Chiefs, citing their top ranking in every defensive category.
“The Chiefs’ defense became the fourth in the history of pro football to lead its league in fewest yards rushing, fewest yards passing and fewest total yards,” he said. “It’s hard to be better than No. 1 at everything.”
Apparently not. Readers like the ’85 Bears better. In fact, they like the ’85 Bears best.