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SCORING TOUCHDOWNS COULD CHANGE BILLS' POINT OF VIEW

The Buffalo Bills concede that the Indianapolis Colts will score some points when the AFC East rivals meet Sunday.

The question is, will the Bills do the same?

The new West Coast offense has been stuck somewhere over the Rocky Mountains since the preseason. Sure, there are growing pains when players have to adjust to a system they are not familiar with.

But the Bills say they can't hide behind that excuse anymore.

"It's time to break out," said coach Gregg Williams. "We've got enough time practice-wise. We have enough threats to make big plays. We have to go out this week and put some points on the board."

That's touchdowns, not field goals.

"We like our kicker (Jake Arians), but we're not trying to put him in the Pro Bowl," said wide receiver Peerless Price. "We have to find a way to score touchdowns on a consistent basis."

The Bills haven't had a touchdown in so long, you wonder if they remember how if feels. They were shut out in their last preseason game and managed just two field goals in the season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Counting all exhibition games and the Saints contest, the Bills have scored only one touchdown when the entire starting offense was on the field.

"We haven't had a big game offensively, even in the preseason," quarterback Rob Johnson said. "Last year we had a couple of real good games in the preseason where we had some big plays. That gives you confidence. And right now we haven't had any.

"We really haven't gone out and put up 28 points and thrown for 200-plus yards, so I think a lot of guys are still wondering whether we can do that in this offense."

The Bills had first downs at the Saints' 17- and 1-yard lines on first-half drives but settled for field goals both times. Buffalo had just 78 yards and crossed midfield just once in five offensive possessions in the second half vs. New Orleans.

"When you get inside the 20 and don't score a touchdown, that's not good," Price said. "We have to do a better job of executing in the red zone."

Despite the lack of production two weeks ago, optimism is high that the offense will turn things around Sunday.

The Colts have revamped their defense with two new starters each at linebacker and in the secondary. The Colts' defense had a decent showing in a 45-24 season-opening win over the New York Jets, but it was far from dominant.

The Bills have worked on a variety of ways to attack the Colts' defense. It starts with establishing a running game with Travis Henry.

"I think running the ball is important against the Colts because it will help us to control the clock and keep their offense off the field," Henry said. "They might slow us down at first, but we have to keep plugging away. Sooner or later, those 5- or 6-yard runs can turn into big gains."

Of course, balance is what the Bills need to keep the Colts off balance. That will be a challenge in the RCA Dome, which can be tough because of crowd noise.

The RCA hasn't been one of Johnson's favorite places. He was knocked out with torn rib cartilage in 1998 and missed the rest of the season once Doug Flutie took over. Last year on Monday Night Football, he was sacked eight times and intercepted twice in a 44-20 loss. The Colts returned a sack/fumble and one interception by Johnson for touchdowns.

Johnson must exorcise those ghosts and be more productive than he was against the Saints for the Bills to have a chance to win.

"We've been running the football pretty well, and we all feel good about that," said offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard. "But in my mind, where we've got to improve on is throwing. We had some plays available two weeks ago and we just didn't make them. This week we have to find mismatches and exploit them."

Sheppard added that wide receivers Eric Moulds and Price must be more involved in the passing attack. Both had just one catch against the Saints.

The Colts usually play a conservative "Cover 2" defense with their safeties playing deep to avoid giving up the big pass play. They will blitz, but not at the expense of compromising their zone coverage.

If the Bills can run the ball, it will force the Colts to stop committing four men in outside coverage and free up Moulds and Price.

"We just have to pick our spots," Moulds said. "If the big play is there, we have to execute and make the play. If not, we have to take what they give us and go on from there."

email: awilson@buffnews.com

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