I went in search of comparisons of the surging Seahawks of 2012 to the franchise gold standard, the 2005 Super Bowl team.
But linebacker Leroy Hill took it a step further, imagining a fantasy football game, via the time machine of imagination, between the two.
As a starter on both editions, Hill’s perspective is unrivaled, and his response might surprise.
“I like the confidence and the hotness of this team right now,” Hill said. “If you match this team up, right now, with that ’05 team, we’d have a pretty good chance this team might even beat that team right now.”
“Yeah I think our defense would match up so much better with that (’05) offense,” he said. “And the confidence and swag is there right now. It’d be a helluva game, I know that.”
But Leroy Hill would never get off the field.
Some of the statistics of the ’05 team’s regular season, which finished 13-3, and the current team’s through 15 games (10-5) are remarkable. The Super Bowl team had the league’s No. 2 offense; the current Seahawks have the No. 4 defense. The ’05ers had the No. 16 defense; the current Hawks the No. 16 offense.
Matt Hasselbeck’s passer rating for the season was 98.2; Russell Wilson’s thus far is 98.0. Hasselbeck finished with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions; Wilson has 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Both teams had featured backs with almost identical rushing averages: Shaun Alexander (5.1) and Marshawn Lynch (5.0).
And both teams had rookie middle linebackers (Lofa Tatupu in ’05 and Bobby Wagner in ’12) who led their teams in tackles, played with unexpected maturity, and added three interceptions each.
Advantages to the ’05ers: They averaged two points more a game and enjoyed a more comfortable margin of victory (11.3 to 10.7).
Advantages to the current Seahawks: They are plus-12 in turnover margin (’05 was plus-10), they hold a significant advantage in return yardage, and kicker Steven Hauschka has been accurate on 22 of his 25 field goal tries, whereas Josh Brown was 18-for-25.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” said cornerback Marcus Trufant, a starter in ’05 and a nickel cornerback now. “This team has a lot of young guys who don’t have a lot of experience in the NFL but they’re playing like guys with experience. The ’05 team had more veterans who had played on different teams and moved around.”
The starters for the Seahawks in last week’s win over San Francisco included 11 with three or fewer years in the NFL. In the 15th game of the 2005 season, six starters were similarly inexperienced.
After starting 2-2 in 2005, the Seahawks rolled to 11 straight wins. This time around, they were 4-4 at midseason before winning six of their past seven games, including the recent stunning three-game stretch during which opponents were outscored 150-30.
“We were solid that whole year,” Hill said of ’05. “We were more consistent because we were more of a veteran team. We were a straight, blue-collar team Chris Gray, Bryce Fisher, Rocky Bernard that was a blue-collar bunch.”
This team, he said, “has a lot more flash to it.”
Trufant didn’t envision a competition between the two teams, thinking the current group “is still rollin’ and we’re peaking at the right time. I think we’re still growing and getting better and that’s the biggest thing, never being satisfied, to keep getting better.”
Hill and Trufant both see the confidence level of the 2012 team approaching that of the ’05 team.
“I sense it,” Trufant said. “Confidence in the team and confidence in the guy next to you. We’re playing really good football now, all the way around – offense, defense and special teams. Everything is really coming together at the right time.”
Arguably, this club might have even more momentum going into today’s final game against St. Louis before entering the playoffs.
“That year, we were hot all year,” Hill said. “But this team has gotten hot of late, and I mean very hot. It feels like the way we’re playing now was how we were playing in the ’05 playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl.”
Because the 2012 span of dominant play has been shorter, it feels a little premature to compare it to the 2005 club, but Hill makes an observation that should encourage fans.
“One difference,” Hill said. “Because this team is so young, it feels like there’s definitely more of a future to it.”Dave Boling: 253-597-8440