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Seahawks have issues to work out during bye week

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RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks still face several issues despite climbing back to .500 at the midway point of the season.

A 13-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday got the Seahawks to 4-4 just in time for their bye week. They open the second half of the season Nov. 15 against the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals.

While the defense seems to have returned to its expected level of play the last couple weeks, the offense is still struggling to consistently put points on the scoreboard. Seattle is last in the league in converting red zone possessions into touchdowns, converting just 29 percent of the time. Their amount of red zone possessions is down significantly from a season ago as well. Through eight games in 2014, Seattle had converted 16-of-31 red zone trips into touchdowns. This season, they only had 17 drives inside an opponent’s 20-yard line through eight games.

Seattle’s third down conversion rate has also dropped from a season ago. Seattle converted 42 percent of third down chances in 2014. That number is down to just 38 percent so far this season.

For head coach Pete Carroll, all of Seattle’s offensive struggles come back to their ability to convert those third down chances and keep drives alive.

“I think just in general our third down numbers are really going in the right direction,” Carroll said. “I think that’s a big factor. We always come back to third down, particularly when we’re finishing games on both sides of the football. The fact that we’ve really knocked numbers down here in the last two weeks really makes a difference. It makes a difference in the game, you can feel it.

“We needed that in a couple other games and we’d have a couple more wins, offense could have done it too. So I think we’re seeing the benefits of better play on third down and the guys just finishing the game right because of that.”

The Seahawks were just 1-of-6 on third down through the first three quarters against Dallas. Then, Seattle converted 4-of-6 third downs opportunities in the fourth quarter which helped sustain two potential go-ahead scoring drives, including a 17-play drive that resulted in Steven Hauschka’s 24-yard field goal to take the lead with 1:06 left to play.

Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell feel that the red zone struggles are a byproduct of the third down issues. Convert more third downs and the red zone numbers will improve as well.

“The focus will really continue in the red zone,” Carroll said. “That’s a big focus for us as far as the offense is concerned. We need to make our plays down there.”

Seattle is expected to have nearly their entire roster healthy coming out of the bye week. Carroll said Monday only tight end Luke Willson would be questionable to practice when the team returns on Monday. Willson suffered an ankle sprain late against the Cowboys.


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