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Monday in Hawkville: Third downs come back to haunt Seahawks

Posted Dec 23, 2013

For a time, the Seahawks were among the most efficient third-down teams in the NFL. But in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals they converted two of 13 for a season-low 15 percent.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 23, which was “Tell The Truth Monday” as the players and coaches reviewed the video of Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field:

WORDS OF THE DAY: THIRD DOWN

There was a point this season where coach Pete Carroll went out of his way to laud the Seahawks’ offense on it performance on third downs. That was during the stretch when they had season-best conversion percentages against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.667, eight of 12) and Atlanta Falcons (.600, nine of 15) in Weeks 9 and 10.

“I was quick to tell our guys for four, five, six weeks in here we were the best of anybody,” Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “We were at 54 percent over a nice span here.”

And after Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that snapped the Seahawks’ 14-game winning streak at CenturyLink Field? Not so much.

The Seahawks converted two of 13 third-down situations for 15 percent, their lowest since a one-of-16, six-percent showing against the Raiders in Oakland in Week 8 of the 2010 season. And in last week’s win against the New York Giants, the Seahawks were three-of-13 for 23 percent.

YOU DON'T SAY

“It’s only one game. I wouldn’t be too worried. But the Rams come to town Sunday. Home-field in the NFC is on the line. Somebody better block Robert Quinn.”

Peter King in keeping at the Seahawks at No. 1 in the “Fine Fifteen” section of his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com

“All of a sudden, we go south here,” Carroll said. “So we’ve just got to make sure we get back to it and do a nice job.”

And what prevented the Seahawks from doing a nice job against the Cardinals?

“We didn’t convert on third down again, and this is a common theme for us,” Carroll said. “When things don’t go right and we don’t feel good about the game, it lays the ground work for not enough run attempts and not opportunities to go downfield like we like to because you don’t get those first downs.

“We just missed opportunities that were there. We protected really well, for the most part. But we got covered up and we missed a couple throws and it added up to a bad day.”

INJURY UPDATES: RUSSELL OKUNG EXPECTED TO PLAY AGAINST RAMS

Carroll said he expects Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung to play in this week’s against the St. Louis Rams, despite injuring the toe that caused him to miss eight games earlier this season in Sunday’s game. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse injured an ankle against the Cardinals, but Carroll said it also looks like he has a chance to play against the Rams.

STAT DU JOUR: A REPEAT EIGHT FOR RICHARD SHERMAN

With two interceptions against the Cardinals on Sunday, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman has a league-leading eight to tie his career high from last season. But it also ties him for the third most in a single season in franchise history and second in most interceptions in a two-season span with one game to move up the rankings:

Single-season interception leaders
Player (years)  No.
FS John Harris (1981) 10
SS Kenny Easley (1984) 10
FS Eugene Robinson (1993) 9
CB Dave Brown (1984)  8
FS Darryl Williams (1997) 8
CB Richard Sherman (2012)  8
CB Richard Sherman (2013)  8
SS Kenny Easley (1983) 7
FS John Harris (1985)  7
FS Eugene Robinson (1992) 7
CB Shawn Springs (1998)  7
CB Marcus Trufant (2007) 7

Most interceptions in back-to-back seasons
Player (years)  No.
SS Kenny Easley (1983-84)  17
FS Eugene Robinson (1992-93) 16
CB Richard Sherman (2012-13) 16

Carroll also said right guard J.R. Sweezy should be able to return this week after missing Sunday’s game with a concussion, but added that Sweezy’s status remains “wait and see.”

WALTER THURMOND RETURNS

Cornerback Walter Thurmond’s league-imposed four-game suspension has ended, so he will practice with the team Tuesday. Where he fits and might play remains to be seen. Thurmond started the first two games at right cornerback, and then was the nickel back for eight games before starting another game on the right side.

“We’ll see as we go through the week. We haven’t seen him on the practice field in a month,” Carroll said. “One day at a time, see how he’s doing. I know that he worked really hard and he’s in good shape and all that. So he should be able to come right back out, but we’ve got to wait and see what that means.”  

With Thurmond gone and since-suspended Brandon Browner injured, Byron Maxwell has started the past four games at right cornerback with Jeremy Lane as the nickel back. And they have played well. Maxwell has intercepted three passes and also tipped one in the end zone against the Cardinals that strong safety Kam Chancellor intercepted; and Lane has four passes defensed.

“Maxie’s done a great job,” Carroll said. “He’s played fantastic, and Jeremy has as well. So we’re in great shape in that regard. It’s a real boost to get Walter back because he’s a terrific player.” 

UP NEXT: “COMPETITION WEDNESDAY” ON A TUESDAY

The players will practice Tuesday, their usual “off” day, and then have Christmas Day off this week. So “Competition Wednesday” comes a day early.

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks