When you include one conversion by penalty (DPI on end zone throw to Jermaine Kearse) the Seahawks went 10 of 13 (76.9%) on 3rd down against the Browns on Sunday. Seattle went a perfect 9 for 9 on 3rd downs of 8 yards or less to go and missed on the three 3rd downs greater than 8 yards (9,10,12 yards to go). The median distance on 3rd down was 7 yards to go versus the Browns.
Interestingly, five of the conversions went to Jermaine Kearse:
3rd and 3 - Complete to Kearse for 12 Yards
3rd and 8 - Defensive Pass Interference Conversion (Targeted to Kearse)
3rd and 7 - Complete to Kearse for 22 Yards
3rd and 7 - Complete to Kearse for 13 Yards
3rd and 6 - Complete to Kearse for 7 Yards
Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Fred Jackson have become the key passing targets for Russell Wilson on 3rd down since Jimmy Graham went down. Since Graham's injury - Seattle has gone 30 of 40 on 3rd down (75%) and not one conversion has been via a tight end.
To round things out, it was good to see Bryce Brown convert a 3rd and 2 (gaining 4 yards) and Christine Michael take a misdirection pitch for 9 yards on 3rd and 1.
The game was interesting in that there were only 15 possessions total for both teams combined. The game was flying by -- but I guess it makes sense when one team is better than 75% on 3rd down and the other team is 50%. Seattle also dominated time of possession, had a high completion percentage, didn't turn the ball over, and ran the ball 36 times. The Browns didn't turn the ball over until the final drive.
The Browns drive results were:
The Seahawks eight drives resulted in:
End of Game
For the season, the official NFL stats list the Seahawks at 46% on 3rd down (3rd best) behind only Arizona (47%) and New Orleans (46%). If the Seahawks can maintain this level of 3rd down success -- with the style of defense, explosive passing, running game and limited turnovers the Seahawks display -- it's hard for them to play less than .800 winning percentage football. They could win out.
Interestingly, the Seahawks have put out their worst 3rd down performances against four of the top teams in the NFL (this was all before the current run of success):
Arizona Game Week 10 -- 1 of 8 (12.5%)
Carolina Game Week 6 -- 4 of 14 (28.6%)
Green Bay Game Week 2 -- 3 of 9 (33.3%)
New England (Super Bowl 49) -- 3 of 10 (30.0%)
This could be the run of teams Seattle will need to face to win the whole thing, and I don't expect 75% or 66% success rates on 3rd downs against these teams. That being said, the Seahawks can't be in the 40% or below range to beat these teams, in my opinion. I think the Seahawks need to be functioning at 42-49% on 3rd down in these games.
Consider the opponents success on third down against Seattle on the flip side -- Seattle lost the 3rd down battle in these four games and lost the four games. Seattle won the turnover battle in three of those games but still lost, and I think a big part of it was due to 3rd down.
Arizona Game Week 10 -- 8 of 17 (47%)
Carolina Week 6 -- 4 of 11 (36%)
Green Bay Week 2 -- 4 of 11 (36%)
New England (Super Bowl 49) -- 8 of 14 (57%)
Until next week...