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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

October 29, 2012 at 6:05 AM

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Seahawks defense suffers third-degree burns

DETROIT -- The Seahawks' defense is good, but hardly great.

Not after Sunday's game in Detroit underscored what had been an underlying problem with that unit: third down.

The Lions faced third down on 16 plays. They converted 12 of them, the highest percentage of any Seahawks opponent since the Jets managed to convert 11 of 14 third downs back in December 2004.

But it wasn't just the total that was alarming or the fact that both of Detroit's fourth-quarter touchdowns occurred on third-and-goal. It was the fact that five of those 12 third-down plays Detroit converted required 7 yards or more.

So what happened?

"They kind of were able to do what they wanted to do," coach Pete Carroll said. "We pressured them some, and when we did, we had a little bit of success, but not enough."

Not even close, and it underscored what had previously been a problem for the Seahawks.

This was the second time this season Seattle allowed an opponent to convert more than half its third-down plays. Dallas also did it back in Week 2.

And of all the measures used for defense, third-down conversion percentage is one that doesn't get much attention.

Seattle was decidedly mediocre in that category entering this game, allowing opponents to convert 38.5 percent of all third downs, No. 16 in the league.

And now, Seattle is in the bottom quarter of the team's in the league in that statistic, and the only one of the league's top five scoring defenses that ranks outside the top 10 in that category.

Yards allowed
(NFL rank)
3rd downs
NFL rank
1. 49ers14.3272.3 (1)32-93 (34.4)8th
1. Bears14.3316 (7)31-91 (34.1)5th
3. Seahawks16.8312 (5)47-107 (43.9)26th
4. Cardinals16.9312.1 (6)31-98 (31.6)3rd
5. Dolphins18363 (22)26-106 (24.5)1st

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