RENTON, Wash. (AP) Halfway through the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks have slipped more than expected for a Super Bowl championship team.
The Seahawks (5-3) have brought an added layer of drama, complete with injuries sidelining key starters, rumblings of locker room divides and the stunning trade of wide receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets.
And while the second half of the schedule is difficult, there's optimism based on the past couple of weeks that all the chaos is in the past.
''I think we're making progress,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ''We've survived some really hard games and we've won some really hard games. We're battle tested and we're ready to go. The fact that we can make this turn with young guys prepared to play and with some guys coming back to their health and we will get a second wave of that as well, I'm feeling pretty good about our chances to go out and win this game this week. This week is really what's a hand and we're going to focus in on that like we always do and then we will just keep cranking, see if we can keep going.''
Sometimes Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been part of an unstoppable unit. At other times, Seattle's offense has gone backward. Same goes for the vaunted defense that has struggled with getting a consistent pass rush and creating turnovers, but remains statistically among the NFL elite.
Red-zone efficiency and third downs are concerns - on both sides of the ball.
Last season, Seattle was the best in the league, allowing only 13 touchdowns on 36 red-zone possessions. This season, the Seahawks have already allowed 15 TDs - 65.2 percent of red-zone possessions - to rank 26th in the league.
Conversely, Seattle is scoring touchdowns on its red-zone trips barely 50 percent of the time, with 16 TDs on 31 possessions.
The Seahawks struggled to get off the field on third downs in their losses to San Diego and Dallas, while also failing to extend their own drives. Only once this season has Seattle converted more than 41 percent of its third-down attempts.
Seattle ranks 22nd in third-down conversions and 16th in third-down conversions allowed.
''I think we'll continue to emphasize third-down work continue to emphasize what's going on in the red zone. We've not been as good as we've been and we need to get better in those areas on both sides of the ball,'' Carroll said. ''Those are probably the most obvious focuses we're working at as well as getting the football away from our opponents. We see that picking up, the ball is bouncing around a lot now but it's going to be more available to us I think as we keep moving forward. But we've got to execute better in the red zone and we've got to get our third down numbers in order.''
While the Seahawks may be optimistic with two straight wins, they have left themselves little room for error. They are two games behind Arizona in the NFC West and while there are two games remaining against the Cardinals, it's the rest of Seattle's schedule that makes the last couple of months so difficult.
While facing Arizona twice could help make up ground, two games against San Francisco, trips to Kansas City and Philadelphia and a home finale against St. Louis make for quite the challenge.
''I think at the end of the day, we're still in position to strike, still in position to get everything that we wanted to get in the preseason done,'' cornerback Richard Sherman said.
NOTES: Seattle placed DE Greg Scruggs (knee) on injured reserve and claimed former San Francisco DE Demarcus Dobbs off waivers Wednesday. Dobbs was cut by the 49ers on Tuesday. ... New Seattle TE Tony Moeaki said he had been working out in Chicago before receiving a call last weekend to try out for the Seahawks. Moeaki went through the tryout on Monday and was signed by the team on Tuesday. Moeaki gives Seattle three healthy tight ends with Zach Miller still at least a week away from returning to practice following ankle surgery in September.