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2002 Buccaneers defense is getting snubbed

The Legion of Boom is big, which means in recent weeks we've seen a lot of comparisons to all-time great defenses. Curiously missing from all those comparisons: the 2002 Buccaneers.


The only outlet to give the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense the love it deserves is, surprisingly, Pro Football Talk. Everyone else talks about the mythical defense of yore: the '70s Steelers, the '85 Bears, the 2000 Ravens and, somehow, the 2013 Seahawks. In the same sentence. With no mention of the Bucs.

ESPN held a Sports Nation poll featuring the 1976 Steelers, the 1985 Bears, the 2000 Ravens and the 2013 Seahawks. Madden held a Facebook poll featuring the same teams. The New York Post released a top 10 defenses list where the Bucs came in ninth(!), behind the 1975 Rams, 1969 Chiefs, 1971 Vikings and a few other worse teams.

This is ridiculous. The Buccaneers are one of three defenses ever to rank first in points and yards allowed in a season. They ranked first in every relevant passing defense category, including yards, touchdowns, interceptions and net yards per attempt allowed. That defense outscored its own offense in the Super Bowl. Football Outsiders' efficiency rankings see it come in way ahead of the Seahawks and every other above-mentioned team.

According to those ratings, the Bucs had the best pass defense ever, the third-best overall defense ever and the best defense to ever win a Super Bowl. And yet, it's all '85 Bears (12th by Outsiders' rankings) this and '70s Steelers that. Nonsense. The Bucs had one of the best defenses of all time, and they damn well deserve to be talked about that way.