As we continue comparing the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl-winning New York Giants let's finally turn our attention to defense. Today, we look at the defensive lines of the two teams.
We know by now that the Giants build their defenses around their front four, and when the front four is good then the defense is good. In both of these two seasons, especially when it came to the playoffs and the Super Bowl, these defensive lines were very, very good.
Below are the regular season numbers for both teams.
2007 Regular Season
Osi Umenyiora, DE -- 52 tackles, 13 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
Justin Tuck, DE -- 10 sacks, 64 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Michael Strahan, DE -- 9 sacks, 57 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Fred Robbins, DT -- 5.5 sacks, 42 tackles
Barry Cofield, DT -- 1 sack, 34 tackles
Jay Alford (DT) and Dave Tollefson (DE) were bit players on this team much of the regular season.
2011 Regular Season
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE -- 16.5 sacks, 93 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 safety, 7 passes defensed
Osi Umenyiora, DE -- 9 sacks, 29 tackles, 2 forced fumbles
Justin Tuck, DE -- 5 sacks, 41 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Dave Tollefson, DE -- 5 sacks, 19 tackles
Chris Canty, DT -- 4 sacks, 48 tackles, 1 safety
Linval Joseph, DT -- 2 sacks, 48 tackles
Rocky Bernard, DT -- 31 tackles
It is, in my mind, pretty difficult to pick one line over the other. The '07 line featured a Hall of Fame defensive end (Strahan), and Umenyiora and Tuck were both younger and healthier than in 2011. That team also had a dominant Fred Robbins on the inside.
The 2011 team featured the arrival to superstar status of Pierre-Paul, and saw Tuck and Umenyiora often limited or unavailable due to injuries. It had a trio of solid defensive tackles with Canty, Joseph and Bernard, and often got good play from Tollefson.
In the end, I think the emergence of Pierre-Paul and what seems like superior overall depth swings the advantage to the 2011. So, that's what I'm going with.