RENTON – Eventually, it will be easy to compare the 2013 Seahawks to the best team in franchise history, the 2005 squad that advanced to Super Bowl XL.
Win the Super Bowl, and the team this season is better. Don’t get there, and the 2005 team is better. Get there and lose and, well, let the debate rage forever.
Heading into the playoffs, though, the teams stand together at 13-3, tied for the best record in the franchise’s 38-year history, and the only two to win the coveted No. 1 seed in the conference with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So until the Seahawks of this season get a chance to settle the argument on the field, here’s a statistical comparison of each team with a few judgments of our own:
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For a while, the 2013 team was on pace to top the 2005 team’s record for points in a season. But a dip in scoring the last four games of the season left the 2013 team short. In fact, its total of 417 points trailed both the 1984 team (418) and the 2005 team (452).
The 2005 team also outgained the squad this season, averaging 369.7 yards a game to 339. The 2005 team also ran more plays — 1,020 to the 973 this season.
In terms of yards per play, the teams are close. The 2005 team set a team record averaging 5.8 yards per play. The team this season averaged 5.57, third best in Seattle history — the team averaged 5.76 in 2012.
The teams also arrived at those yards in similar ways. Led by Shaun Alexander, the 2005 team averaged 153.6 yards per game rushing and 4.73 yards per carry. The team this season, led by Marshawn Lynch (and with a healthy assist from Russell Wilson) averaged 136.8 yards rushing per game, though just 4.29 yards per carry.
The Seahawks averaged 216.1 yards passing in 2005 with Matt Hasselbeck completing 65.5 percent of his passes, with a rating of 98.2. Seattle this season averaged 202.3 yards passing with Wilson completing 63.1 percent of his throws and with a rating of 101.2. Wilson’s two years stand as the top two passer ratings in team history, with Hasselbeck in 2005 ranking third.
One advantage for the team this season: Hasselbeck averaged a career-high 7.7 yards per attempt while Wilson finished at 8.25 despite a late-season drop.
Add it up, and give the edge to the 2005 team, but maybe not by quite as much as you’d have guessed.
If you’re a believer that defense wins championships, then the good omen for the team this season is that, by just about any statistical comparison, it is better than the 2005 squad.
Two stats make it pretty clear. The team this season allowed just 231 points and 267.3 yards a game, which not only led the NFL but also are franchise record lows for a 16-game season. The 2005 team allowed 271 points and 316.8 yards per game.
One area where the 2005 team was statistically better? Run defense, allowing 94.4 yards per game to the 101.6 this season. But the team this season had a far superior pass defense, allowing a passer rating of just 63.4 compared to 77.4.
The team this season also had a big edge in interceptions, an NFL-leading 28 to 16 in 2005.
And the Seahawks this season came close to matching the 2005 team’s 50 sacks. The team this season had 44, improving markedly from 36 last season.
The 2005 team had solid, but far from statistically impressive, special teams. Anyone remember Josh Scobey (who handled 59 of Seattle’s 61 kickoff returns that season for an average of 22.5 yards) or Jimmy Williams (who handled 24 of Seattle’s 31 punt returns for an average of 5.8)?
Seattle’s kickoff returners this season are averaging 21.2 per attempt, and main punt returner Golden Tate has been something of a revelation at 11.5 per try.
The 2005 Seahawks started 2-2, losing their fourth game of the season at Washington when Josh Brown missed a 47-yard field goal to end regulation, then fell behind the next week at St. Louis when the Rams returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Seattle, though, then won 11 in a row, the longest winning streak in team history.
A blocked field goal returned for a touchdown at Indianapolis led to one of the defeats for the team this season. But otherwise, special teams have been a highlight. Steven Hauschka is a Pro Bowl alternate after making 33 of 35 field-goal attempts. Jon Ryan spearheaded a punting unit that allowed just 82 return yards, a team record.
So yes, we’re giving two checks to the team this season, one to 2005. But now it’s time for the 2013 team to create its true legacy on the field.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org