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Ranking the best Super Bowl Defensive performances ever

We take a look back at some of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history and rank our favorites.

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl 57 should mark another memorable matchup with standout performances on both sides of the ball. While it’s easy to think back and remember historic games from those on offense, a number of standout defensive performances have resulted in MVP honors being granted on that side of the ball.

Let’s look back on some of the most dominant defensive performances in the Super Bowl, including a few MVP award winners.

5. Reggie White, Packers vs Patriots, Super Bowl XXXI

White is highly regarded as one of, if not the greatest pass rusher in NFL history, and his performance versus the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI illustrated why he was so great. White had three sacks against Drew Bledsoe, including the game-sealing sack, to set a then single-game record for most in a Super Bowl.

4. James Harrison, Steelers vs Cardinals, Super Bowl XLIII

The Steelers' 27-23 win over the Cardinals will be remembered by historic performances from Larry Fitzgerald and Santonio Holmes, but don’t overlook one of the iconic defensive plays made by James Harrison. Alongside three solo tackles and a pass deflection, Harrison made one of the biggest defensive plays in Super Bowl history, returning an interception 100 yards for a Steelers touchdown as time expired at the end of the first half.

3. Ray Lewis, Ravens vs Giants, Super Bowl XXXV

Another Super Bowl MVP makes the list, and Ray Lewis proved to be a fitting honoree for the title in the Ravens’ 34-7 win over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. The Hall of Fame linebacker had three tackles and four pass deflections as New York struggled to generate any offense against what is considered to be one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.

2. Von Miller, Broncos vs Panthers, Super Bowl 50

When your defensive performance is rewarded by being named MVP of the Super Bowl, how can you not be a part of this list? In the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl, Miller led a dominant performance from the Broncos' defense, finishing with 2.5 sacks five tackles, and two forced fumbles as Denver stymied Cam Newton and the Panthers in a 24-10 win.

1. Aaron Donald, Rams vs Bengals, Super Bowl LVI

Cooper Kupp was named MVP of Super Bowl LVI, but some could argue that Aaron Donald was more than deserving of the hardware. The star pass rusher finished with four tackles and two sacks of Joe Burrow. Many individual performances are inclusive of a memorable play, and Donald was instrumental in hurrying Burrow on an incomplete pass that sealed Los Angeles’ 23-20 win.

This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 57, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.