Defense Wins Championships…Just Not NFL Championships

James Edmonds | Staff Writer

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We’ve all heard the old adage “defense wins championships” from a youth-league coach, an ESPN analyst, or that guy in your fantasy league who won the championship thanks to starting the Bears in week 17. Despite how reliable and esteemed the individual you first heard the adage from, Super Bowl XLVI is evidence that they are wrong.

 Neither team played very well on the defensive side of the ball. The Patriots were starting cornerbacks that could have made me look like an elite level quarterback. Eli Manning passed the ball 40 times in the game, and completed 30 of those. His completion percentage was 75 percent. That hardly happens at the collegiate level, where it is already known that offensive talent far exceeds defensive talent.

The Giants’ defense was talked up for much of the fortnight leading up to the game, but in reality they weren’t much better than the Patriots’ shoddy defense. The pass rush that was supposed to rattle Tom Brady only got to him twice throughout the game. They also allowed Brady to complete 66 percent of his 41 passes. The defense did pick up a safety, but that was really more of an odd judgment call about which ways it is and is not OK to throw the ball away. If Brady had thrown it just as far away from a receiver standing near the sideline it wouldn’t have been flagged.

In the same way, it’s easy to look at the final score of the game and assume that it actually was a defensive matchup, or at least, more of a defensive matchup than was anticipated. The reason more points weren’t scored was really just offensive miscues by both teams rather than any stellar performance by the defenses on either side.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about how the game went. The fourth quarter was as intense as sports get. That was exactly why sports are such popular events to watch. We want to see the different ways people respond to high-pressure situations or periods of intense duress, and that fourth quarter provided for both of those things. I only regret that, because of trends in the modern NFL, it is now only the quarterbacks who have to respond to the brunt of the pressure. In Super Bowl V the pressure of the biggest game of the year, and the duress of a close matchup (final was 16-13) was felt by everyone. The running backs and every member of the defense of the Baltimore Colts stepped up to overcome a deficit and win. As it is now, instead of talking about the performance of the Giants as a team we will have to listen to analysts laud Eli Manning for the rest of the offseason.