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Best defensive lines in NFL history

Purple People Eaters

Players: Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Jim Marshall, Alan Page

Team: Vikings

Seasons: 1968-74

The skinny: The four combined for 19 Pro Bowl selections. Page and Eller are Hall of Famers. In 1971, not only was Page voted defensive player of the year, but Associated Press league MVP, the only time a defensive lineman has won it. All four made the Pro Bowl in 1969.

Fearsome Foursome

Players: Rosey Grier, Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen

Team: Rams

Seasons: 1963-67

The skinny: Bears great Dick Butkus called the unit "the most dominant in football history.'' Olsen was the star tackle, making the Pro Bowl 14 times. He is joined in the Hall of Fame by Jones, an eight-time Pro Bowl pick.

Steel Curtain

Players: Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes (replaced by Steve Furness in 1978), Dwight White

Team: Steelers

Seasons: 1972-80

The skinny: Greene, a Hall of Famer, might be the best defensive tackle ever. Then you have Greenwood, a six-time Pro Bowl end who despite recording 731/2 sacks is not in the Hall of Fame. White, a two-time Pro Bowl tackle, and Holmes (and later Furness) round out a line that helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls.

New York Sack Exchange

Players: Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Abdul Salaam

Team: Jets

Seasons: 1979-83

The skinny: In 1981, the Jets might have had the most dominant line in NFL history. The four combined for 66 sacks (although sacks were an unofficial statistic in 1981). Klecko had 201/2 and Gastineau 20. Lyons, by the way, graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic.

1985 Bears

Players: Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, William Perry

The skinny: Arguably the greatest defense of all time started up front. Dent and Hampton are Hall of Famers, and each appeared in four Pro Bowls. McMichael added two Pro Bowls, and Perry — a.k.a. "The Refrigerator" — is one of the most charismatic players ever.

Best defensive lines in NFL history 09/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2011 11:01pm]
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