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Red zone TDs continue to be a problem

The Buffalo Bills were 29th in the NFL in touchdown scoring percentage in the red zone last season. Not much has changed this year.

The red zone continues to be the place where touchdowns go to die for the Bills, who have scored just two TDs in nine possessions inside the

opponents' 20-yard line.

The Bills are coming away with some points as they've gotten six red-zone field goals from place-kicker Rian Lindell. But seven points is a lot better than three. The Bills' offense has only two touchdowns in 12 quarters of football, so the unit has to do more with the few red zone opportunities it gets.

"It's very frustrating," quarterback J.P. Losman said. "It's good that we're not having penalties to back ourselves out. We're not turning the ball over and not taking a lot of lost-yardage plays. We're still getting just three points, which is going to catch up with you at times and it's catching up with us now. It's definitely an area we need to focus on."

In Sunday's loss to Atlanta, the Bills had three possessions in the red zone and another inside the Falcons' 25-yard line. One drive ended with an eight-yard touchdown run by Willis McGahee, but the Bills had to settle for field goals on three other occasions.

On the Bills' first possession, Losman missed a wide-open Eric Moulds near the goal line and dumped a short pass to McGahee that fell incomplete. Losman had an open receiver on third down at Atlanta's 23-yard line, but the pass was batted down by Falcons defensive tackle Rod Coleman. Another red zone drive ended when backup wide receiver Jonathan Smith took a quick toss from Losman, but stumbled and fell at the 13.

"Watching the tape again we've had opportunities, and they've been both in the run and the pass," coach Mike Mularkey said. "(Sunday) there were some chances to get the ball inside the 10 and be first down from down there. We just didn't take advantage of the chances. We've been down there and we've had our opportunities. We're not making the plays when they're available. We've got to start doing that."

Losman said scoring touchdowns in the red zone has to be a collective thing, but added that some extra individual effort would help as well.

"Throws are going to be tighter (in the red zone), and someone is going to have to make a good catch here or there or break a tackle and make someone miss and get in," he said. "We just have to get it done."

* * *

The Bills didn't have a comment on former running back Travis Henry being suspended for four games by the NFL Monday for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The league prohibits teams from talking about players on other teams. Henry spent the previous four seasons with the Bills, but was traded to Tennessee in July, just before training camp.

A player gets a four-game suspension after his third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Henry's first two strikes must have occurred in Buffalo because NFL officials told Titans coach Jeff Fisher before the trade that Henry was in a league-mandated program, which is required after the first failed test.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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