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Originally published Friday, October 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook | Mike Holmgren targets Seahawks' third-down troubles

Third down is a first priority for the Seahawks, something coach Mike Holmgren clearly outlined this week in separate meetings with his...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Third down is a first priority for the Seahawks, something coach Mike Holmgren clearly outlined this week in separate meetings with his offensive and defensive coaching staffs.

"The big portion of those meetings dealt directly with what happens on third down," Holmgren said.

The Seahawks started their season by forcing Buffalo to punt after three plays on the Bills' first four possessions of that game, but the defense wasn't nearly so stout Sunday against Green Bay.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 10 of 12 passes he attempted on third down for 131 yards and a touchdown.

But overall this season, Seattle's third-down problems are actually more acute on the other side of the ball.

The Seahawks have allowed opponents to convert 39.7 percent of their third-down plays into first down. That's hardly great, but it is at least mediocre — it's tied for No. 13 in the league.

It's the offense's third-down conversions that are truly awful. Seattle converted 30.2 percent of its third-down plays. Only four teams in the league have worse percentages: San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit and St. Louis.

Seattle has converted five of its 22 third-down plays over the past two games.

"It is a game-deciding statistic," Holmgren said. "Unlike some other statistics, it's a very, very important statistic.

"We're trying to fix it."

Joltin' Joey

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden hasn't seen enough of 38-year-old wide receiver Joey Galloway, who has missed the team's past four games because of a foot injury and has been limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

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"I've nicknamed him the white tiger," Gruden said. "He's rare. He only comes out at [Florida amusement park] Busch Gardens once every six months. But now, it's kind of like he's the saber-toothed tiger. He's been extinct. We need him back."

Galloway played for the Seahawks until he was traded to Dallas in 1999. He came to the Bucs in 2004.

Ready for prime time?

Seattle plays its first prime-time game of the season on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. The kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. Eastern time (5:15 p.m. Seattle time). Holmgren said the only concession the Seahawks will make in game-day schedule is the players will get a later wake-up call and then have a block of free time in the afternoon.

"They'll watch the games and then, after that, pretty soon you'll have your pregame meal," Holmgren said.

Seattle has won four of its last six games played on Sunday night going back to 2002. The Seahawks are 12-8 in prime-time games under Holmgren.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Returned to practice
Player Injury
Deon Grant knee
In a limited capacity after suffering a sprained ligament Sunday vs. Green Bay
Koren Robinson knee
Without limitation after sitting out Wednesday.
Absent from practice
Player Injury
Deion Branch heel
Has not practiced since injury in 1st half at New York on Oct. 5.
Will Heller knee
Is not expected to play at Tampa Bay.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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