during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

The Denver Broncos’ win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 will live on as one of the most dominant defensive performances in the game’s storied history.

Pegged as an underdog against NFL MVP Cam Newton and the Panthers, Denver turned the tables by producing seven sacks, forcing four turnovers and holding Carolina’s top ranked scoring offense to just 10 points. Super Bowl MVP Von Miller had two game-changing strip-sacks, with the first resulting in a defensive touchdown and the second finishing off the Panthers late in the fourth quarter.

Newton—who was responsible for 48 touchdowns over Carolina’s first 18 games in 2015—failed to score in the Super Bowl, while posting a 55.4 passer rating and three turnovers. He was hit 13 times and under pressure on the majority of his drop backs.

The Broncos’ suffocating defense allowed Denver to win by two touchdowns despite Peyton Manning’s offense producing less than 200 yards and converting just one of 14 third downs.

Here are the rest of the most dominant defensive performances in Super Bowl history:

Ravens vs. Giants, Super Bowl XXXV

The Ravens’ historic defense allowed 152 total yards, forced five turnovers and sacked Giants quarterback Kerry Collins four times. New York scored only seven points, which came off a kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Overall, the Giants’ 17 offensive possessions ended in 11 punts, four interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), one lost fumble and the end of the game.

Bears vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XX

The Bears set Super Bowl records for sacks (seven, now tied with Denver) and rushing yards allowed (seven), while giving up just 123 total yards and causing six turnovers. Four of the takeaways led to touchdowns. The overmatched Patriots made a quarterback change in the first half and eventually went into half time with minus-19 yards of offense, trailing 23-3.

Buccaneers vs. Raiders, Super Bowl XXXVII

The Buccaneers embarrassed NFL MVP Rich Gannon and the Raiders, who managed just 11 first downs and 19 yards rushing. Gannon threw a Super Bowl record five interceptions, of which three were returned for touchdowns. Buccaneers safety and Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson had two of the interceptions, while Dwight Smith (two) and Derrick Brooks returned their picks for scores. Tampa Bay also sacked Gannon five times.

Giants vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XLII

The Giants used a huge defensive showing to upset the first 18-0 team and the most productive offense in NFL history. The Patriots—who averaged a league record 36.8 points per game in the regular season—scored just 14 points and managed 274 total yards in the Super Bowl, while NFL MVP Tom Brady was sacked five times. New England didn’t score on seven of its nine possessions, including a six-possession stretch spanning the second and third quarters.

Steelers vs. Vikings, Super Bowl IX

The Steel Curtain came down hard on Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who threw for 102 yards and three interceptions. The Vikings managed a Super Bowl-low 119 total yards and nine first downs, while scoring zero points on offense (Minnesota’s lone touchdown came off a blocked punt) and giving up a safety. Pittsburgh forced five turnovers and held Minnesota to fewer than four yards per play.

Cowboys vs. Bills, Super Bowl XXVII

The Bills actually led this game by a 7-0 score after a Thurman Thomas touchdown in the first quarter, but it was all Dallas from that point on. The Cowboys forced a Super Bowl record nine turnovers, with four interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Dallas returned two of the fumbles for touchdowns, and Leon Lett was only a yard or two away from adding a third (Don Beebe famously prevented the score). Jim Kelly and Frank Reich both threw two picks, while Thomas was held to just 19 yards rushing.

Seahawks vs. Broncos, Super Bowl XLVIII

Seattle’s dismantled Peyton Manning and the Broncos top ranked scoring offense, forcing four turnovers—including an interception returned for a touchdown—and a safety on the game’s first play. Seattle had scored 36 points by the time Denver finally got on the board to finish out the third quarter. The Broncos eventually managed 306 yards, but many came once the game was firmly in hand.

Cowboys vs. Dolphins, Super Bowl VI

The Cowboys held Miami to just 185 total yards, while forcing three turnovers and keeping the Dolphins out of the end zone. In fact, Dallas remains the only team to not allow a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Miami quarterback Bob Griese threw for just 123 yards, while Larry Csonka ran for 40 yards—as the Dolphins’ 11 offensive possessions netted just three points.

Zach Kruse

About Zach Kruse

Zach is the associate editor at The Sports Daily. He also covers the NFL for Bleacher Report and CheeseheadTV.

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