The 2005 Seahawks appeared to be a better team than the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they were derailed by three things: penalties, a trash-talking tight end who couldn't walk his talk, and one huge injury.
The 2013 Seahawks seem much better situated to deal with any or all of those pitfalls.
Pretty much everyone outside Pittsburgh will agree that Super Bowl XL was the most controversial Super Bowl ever.
Holmgren's team was the least penalized in the league that season, yet the Hawks were flagged seven times for 70 yards in the Super Bowl (the Steelers drew just three flags for 20 yards). And nearly every call against the Hawks was a huge game changer.
The biggest calls were a dubious pass interference on Darrell Jackson that overturned his first-quarter touchdown catch, a touchdown given to Ben Roethlisberger even though he appeared down before reaching the ball across the goal line just before halftime, a holding call on Sean Locklear that killed a deep pass to the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter and a horrible "low block" call on Matt Hasselbeck as he made a tackle on an interception shortly after the Locklear penalty.
It was a lot for the Hawks to overcome, and they failed to do so largely because tight end Jerramy Stevens let Pittsburgh's thug linebacker, Joey Porter, get in his head. The two players, who are both among the biggest chuckleheads in recent NFL history, engaged in a bunch of trash talk during the days leading up to the game, and then Stevens choked on his words as he dropped four huge passes in the game.
On top of the poor officiating and Stevens' awful game, the Hawks took a big hit when safety Marquand Manuel (now a defensive assistant for Carroll's Seahawks) was injured. Manuel had filled in admirably for Ken Hamlin after Hamlin was beaten in a nightclub brawl early in the season. But the Hawks were perilously thin at safety.
Recently signed practice-squad rookie Etric Pruitt was burned on two touchdown plays in the second half: He was out of position on Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run and he was faked out on Antwaan Randle El's end-around, 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward.
The 2005 Hawks were blown away by a perfect storm of events -- bad officials, missed plays by a key player and a big injury at a position of little depth -- and they lost because of it.
The 2013 Hawks seem impervious to any of that.
These Hawks led the league in penalties this season, and they overcame them in almost every game. They are used to getting called for their aggressive play, and Carroll always says he expects his players to play well enough to overcome any penalties. They typically have.
As for the trash-talking underperformer, the Hawks have none. Their biggest trash talker is Richard Sherman, who almost always backs up his words with big plays -- like the one that preserved the NFC title game win over the 49ers and sent Seattle to the Super Bowl.
As for depth, this defense is stacked. Even if star safety Earl Thomas somehow got hurt, the team probably could overcome it.
Even though these Seahawks are not as experienced as that 2005 team, they are more talented and better equipped to beat the adversity Holmgren's team could not.
That said, let's hope they don't have to.