Seahawks must improve on third down

RENTON, Wash. -- Third-down has been a big downer for the Seattle Seahawks offense the past two games, and the Tennessee Titans are a tough team to try to turn it around.

The Seahawks are 5-for-26 on the third down in the past two games, including 2-for-12 in the 34-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

Improving on that situation was a major focus this week, but it won’t be easy. The Titans are No. 3 in the NFL in third-down defense, allowing only a 28.1 percent success rate of the third downs against them.

“That’s going to be a huge part of this game,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “Obviously, that is one of their strengths, and right now, it’s one of our weaknesses. It’s something that we’re continuing to work on every time we go out, and it’s something that we definitely need to improve.”

So what is it about the Tennessee defense that makes it so effective on third downs?

“They just do a great job with their scheme,” Bevell said. “They do a great job of manning you up. They get in your face, play you tough, play you hard and bring a good rush.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said most of Seattle's recent problems on third down have come from protection mistakes on an offensive line that was missing three starters the past two games, along with tight end Zach Miller last week.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is confident the team will show improvement Sunday on third-down efficiency.

“That’s our biggest focus this week,’’ Wilson said. "It’s something we have to do right. We have to be poised, be collected, and just go about our business and make the play.”

Center Max Unger will return Sunday after missing the past two games with an upper arm injury. Wilson praised backup center Lemuel Jeanpierre for the job he did, but Wilson knows Unger can make a difference.

“Max is a Pro Bowl player,” Wilson said. “To have him out there always helps. He’s a tremendous leader. He understands the game so well. It's his ability to make the calls and put us in the right position at the right time.”