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Seahawks strive to fix third-down struggles

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Third downs have been a nightmare for the Seattle Seahawks.

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Offensively, they've struggled to convert to keep drives alive. Defensively, they've allowed far too many conversions.

Coming off a 19-13 loss at St. Louis, the Seahawks are making it a priority to address their third-down struggles.

``We're doing extra work on it the first two days this week,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ``... We need to get better there. First and second down, on both sides of the football, are pretty good for us so we need to accent that with the performance and execution on third down.''

Seattle's offense has converted on just 28 percent of its third downs so far this season. In the last two weeks, the Seahawks are converting at just a 20 percent clip.

``That's out biggest issue right now. It's our main focus,'' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ``We kind of like what we're doing on first and second down. I think 309 of our yards have come on first and second down and I think we've netted like minus-14 on third down. We've got to do better there.''

The struggles of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson have been exacerbated in third-down situations. The Seahawks are just one for their last 13 on called pass plays on third down in their last two games, with their only conversion coming on a scramble by Wilson. Seattle hasn't converted a third down through the air since the fourth quarter of their Week 2 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

``Sometimes it's maybe my fault or whatever it is,'' Wilson said. ``Now we're just focused on how do we fix it? How do we capitalize on those situations?''

While the defense has been playing well - ranked second in the league in both yards and points per game - it has struggled to stop teams on third down. Against St. Louis, Seattle forced the Rams into eight third-and-long situations but allowed five to be converted. All five conversions kept drives alive that led to 16 of the Rams' 19 points for the game.

``That's just not good football,'' linebacker K.J. Wright said. ``If we play good on first and second down, we've got to be able to get off the field on the money down.''

On the season, Seattle's opponents are converting on 43 percent of their third-down chances and 45 percent on tries of 10 yards or more.

``It's unacceptable. We can't continue to operate like that,'' defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. ``I don't know if we have to change things. We just have to be more disciplined.''

NOTES: DT Brandon Mebane missed practice on Thursday with a sore calf. Mebane has been hampered by calf problems in the past. He missed a game in 2009 and four in 2010 with calf issues. ... RB Marshawn Lynch (rest) returned to full participation in practice after being limited on Wednesday.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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