With all the narratives flooding in about the Denver Broncos' 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 -- Cam Newton's postgame sulking, Peyton Manning's potential retirement, the inability of the Panthers' receivers to catch the ball -- we'll forgive you if you missed the most critical part of the game:
Denver's stifling defense.
Von Miller, winner of the Super Bowl MVP award, was on fire, lighting up tackles Michael Oher and Mike Remmers all day.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips sent multiple players on blitzes; while Miller and DeMarcus Ware got the stats, Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and Derek Wolfe all contributed heavily to one of Cam Newton's worst performances of the year.
But we couldn't help but wonder, where does this Broncos defense rank among the best defensive performances in the Super Bowl? Let's take a subjective look.
10) 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
Someone has to be last, but on a list like this, it's no dishonor.
Not many people know this team well beyond Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, but the statistics speak for themselves. The defense held opposing offenses to just 3.9 yards per play and 13.9 points per game.
This Steelers team was not as effective during the playoffs, allowing 61 points in three games, getting torched by Kurt Warner for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Pittsburgh shut down the run game though, and Harrison's 100-yard pick six was a critical part of the eventual win.
9) 1990 New York Giants
I thought long and hard about putting the 1986 Big Blue Wrecking Crew here instead, but the 1990 Bill Parcells-led squad simply had a better defense. They allowed just 13.2 points per game against a schedule with seven playoff teams on it. In the playoffs, they stifled the Chicago Bears, holding them to three points, then stymied a really good San Francisco 49ers team, holding them to 13 points while forcing a fumble late to set the Giants up for a win. They were also able to slow down a good Buffalo Bills offense, beating them 20-19.
Oh, some dude named Lawrence Taylor was on the defense too.
8) 1966 Green Bay Packers
An oldie but a very goodie, the Packers had six Hall of Famers on this defense and were a monster to deal with; defense was a big reason why the team had one of the best passer rating differential in NFL history.
It's really hard to compare what they did to the success of recent teams, because the game they played only kind of looks like what we see every Sunday. Still, that shouldn't take away from one of the best Super Bowl-winning defenses in history.
7) 1973 Miami Dolphins
Ah, the "No Name Defense." Holding their opponents to 14 points or less all season, they also set a record by allowing just 150 points during the 14-game season. This gang included Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti but also had Bill Stanfill at defensive end -- a guy who set a team record for sacks with 18.5.
They absolutely thrashed the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII, killing Fran Tarkenton and holding a good offense to just 7 points.
6) 1969 Kansas City Chiefs
The '69 Chiefs absolutely walloped everyone they saw in the playoffs, allowing just 20 points to the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings on their way to winning Super Bowl IV. Featuring Hall of Famers Buck Buchanon, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier, the defense also crushed teams during the regular season, holding opponents to an average of less than two touchdowns a game and holding five of the teams to 10 points or less.
As a side note, what is it about Minnesota losing in the Super Bowl to excellent defenses? We should look into that.
5) 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All props to new Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, because this defense was shaped by him, and the success it had after he was fired from the Bucs should reflect well on him. It held opponents to 10 points or less eleven times, and the season average was just 12.2 overall.
The 2002 squad manhandled the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl as well, intercepting Rich Gannon five times and scoring three times.
4) 2013 Seattle Seahawks
It's hard not to think about the Seahawks when it comes to the Broncos beating the Panthers -- after all, this Seattle defense made the Broncos offense look like Pee Wee players just a few years ago. And this was a Denver offense that had scored more points than any team in regular season history.
Seattle allowed just 14.4 points per game, held offenses to just 5.82 yards per pass and dominated in every major statistical category. It had a beastly front seven comprised of role players and rotational guys, and a ridiculous secondary that forced the NFL to change how pass interference was called.
And they absolutely destroyed Manning and the Broncos offense on Super Bowl Sunday.
Of course, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
3) 2015 Denver Broncos
Maybe this is too "prisoner of the moment" but the Broncos showed us just what a dominating defense can do. They should thank the Seahawks, by the way, as the beatdown Denver received two seasons ago impacted how John Elway and company put together this defense.
They added two hard-hitting players in Aqib Talib and TJ Ward and while we can give Talib grief for how he got flagged Sunday night, his hits absolutely got into the heads of the Carolina receivers, who dropped a ton of balls. Ditto for Ward -- you knew that if you crossed the middle, you were paying for it.
The Broncos allowed just 283.1 yards per game -- fewest in the NFL -- and just 199 through the air (again, fewest in the NFL). In a league that is all about passing, that's important, as are their 14 interceptions and league-leading 52 sacks.
They added seven sacks on Sunday, and I don't even know how many hits. As mentioned in one of the above tweets, they blitzed a lot and brought a ton of pressure. That's what they did against Tom Brady in the Conference Championships as well, and against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2) 2000 Baltimore Ravens
This is a team which held opponents to less than 11 points per game, allowed the fewest points total for a season with 165, and allowed just 970 yards rushing by opposing offenses, never allowing a single 100-yard rusher. They shut out four regular season opponents and then allowed just 23 points in four games during the playoffs, including holding the New York Giants to just seven points in the Super Bowl (and that score was not an offensive touchdown).
This was a tough defense and they bullied other teams, muscling offenses and bending them to their will. But they were smart as well, taking the tendencies of teams they faced and often knowing the plays as well as the offenses they faced.
On top of everything else, this was a decidedly average offense, ranked 16th in the NFL that season, so it was the defense that truly won the 2000 Super Bowl. A lot of comparisons have been made between the 2015 Broncos and this Ravens team, including the lack of a good offense. They feel dead on as well, especially given how much Peyton Manning struggled during the season.
This Ravens team was well-coached, populated with players like Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson and dominated in ways that we rarely see.
1) 1985 Chicago Bears
More remembered for the "Super Bowl Shuffle," the 1985 Chicago Bears (which included current Panthers coach Ron Rivera) were one of the most dominant defenses in the history of the NFL.
Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan may have disliked Mike Ditka and the offense -- and maybe everything to do with any offense ever -- but his "46" defense revolutionized football and Mike Singletary was insanely productive in it.
They slapped around a lot of teams during the season, but really hammered the opposition during the playoffs when they blanked both the Giants (who would win the Super Bowl the next year) and the Los Angeles Rams. Then they embarrassed the Patriots, holding them to 10 points, seven yards rushing, 11 first downs and one converted third down.