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Monson: Defense doesn't win championships, scoring does

Published January 16, 2013 9:49 am

NFL • One look at division playoff game results tells you all you need to know
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sports is full of little truisms, some of them true and some of them false. If a truism actually is false, should it be called a falsism?

Defense wins championships is a falsism.

I've said it for years and I say it again now.

The NFL playoffs say it again now.

Anybody who watched the explosive games leading to this point in the postseason finally has to give it up. Various versions of the worn-out cliché have included: "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships," and, "Offense wins games, defense wins championships."

Well let's put it like this: If your offense didn't run up a ton of points in games Saturday and Sunday, you'd have no shot at a championship.

Look at the scores … Ravens 38, Broncos 35; 49ers 45, Packers 31; Falcons 30, Seahawks 28; Patriots 41, Texans 28.

Look at the stars of the divisional playoffs … Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns; Joe Flacco, who threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns; Tom Brady, who threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns; Matt Ryan, who threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

Look at the total yards compiled by the winners and the losers. In four games, those teams rolled for 3,593 yards. And, somewhere, Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus were hugging and weeping. Numbers were stacking up like planes at La Guardia and if a team's offense couldn't keep blowing down the field … yeah, it lost.

San Francisco and Seattle supposedly had the hottest defenses going, and Houston's wasn't bad either. Two of the three are goners. A lot of people want to make these playoffs about Ray Lewis, and, sure enough, the old linebacker had 17 tackles against Denver, but Flacco was the one who saved the Ravens and kept hope alive with his 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones on a third-down play with 41 seconds left in regulation. It was one of the best and biggest passes ever completed in a situation like that. Without it, Baltimore would have been done.

"At that point, you have to start taking shots," Flacco told reporters. "You have to get a little lucky. Had to take a shot and everyone came through."

Everyone on the Ravens offense came through.

Same thing for the Falcons, who, after building a huge lead, crumbled down the stretch while the Seahawks charged hard, taking the lead near the end. A few terrific Ryan passes later, Atlanta won on that field goal.

While we're at it, is there a better offensive line in all of football than the Niners'? As for Kaepernick, and his record-breaking performance, everybody who ripped Jim Harbaugh for benching Alex Smith a couple of months ago owes both the coach and the young quarterback an apology. There's no way Smith, bless his heart, could have put up such a spectacular performance. It was offensive football to love.

And we haven't even gotten to Brady, who broke Joe Montana's record for most playoff wins and now has a great chance at his fourth Vince Lombardi trophy. When the Texans blitzed him, he made them pay. When they dropped into coverage, he exacted his toll.

"He's our leader, and we follow him," said Bill Belichick. "We all respect him and he led the team [Sunday], along with a lot of other guys, but he certainly did his job, as he's done many times before. There's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady."

There's no player Belichick would rather have.

Defense is nice and all, has its place, and it could be argued that if a few guys on that side of the ball had stepped up and made plays over the weekend, some of the offensive thrills never would have happened. I get it. You can't let the other offense fly into the end zone on every possession. But the same thing is undeniable now that's always been undeniable about football and just about every other sport: If you can't score, you can't win.

That's a truism that's actually true.

Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.