Red zone red alert

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Henry Burris just loves watching Nik Lewis chugging into the endzone, the pigskin tucked securely under one arm.

Problem is the Calgary Stampeders quarterback enjoys the view even more when he's the one delivering the ball into his leading receiver's gargantuan paws.

Or any other Calgary receiver, for that matter, and that's the issue at hand.

Lewis scored Calgary's only touchdown Sunday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders but did it by scooping up a botched punt, much like in Week 2 when Lewis also posted the team's only major after blocking a Winnipeg Blue Bombers boot before rambling into the endzone.

Eight times Sunday in Regina, Burris and the Stampeders offence moved the ball inside the Riders' 25-yard-line but never put a seven on the scoreboard against the top-flight Green and White D. Instead, Sandro DeAngelis booted six field goals en route to special teams player-of-the-week status.

Although Calgary's offence boasts the talent to rack up huge numbers, the team is second-last in touchdowns this season (39), ahead of only Hamilton, while leading the loop in field goals.

It's not the sort of production that propels CFL teams through the playoffs, where the 9-7 Stamps are destined to perform for the first time since 2001.

The shortcoming is something offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto and the unit is fine-tuning for Sunday's game in Winnipeg.

"Mental toughness to finish plays is something we have to keep preaching to get their attention," Buratto said after yesterday's practice.

"We need to make sure, again, that when we get inside the five-yard-line, we know exactly where we're going and the plays we're running."

Granted, Burris has missed three games with torn ligaments in his left hand and the revamped offence took a spell from the start of the season to get rolling.

"It's execution," Burris argues, shrugging off any notion the unit lacked 'killer instinct' in Regina. "If you execute, the killer instinct is part of it. It's really just a state of mind and not losing focus."

The team has also been the victim of some oddball circumstances. Against the 'Riders, tailback Joffrey Reynolds crashed headlong into an o-lineman's butt on third-and-one from the Saskatchewan five, turning the ball over on downs.

On another occasion, Burris threw a 51-yard strike to Jeremaine Copeland, who was stopped at the goal-line, although replays appeared to show the play as a touchdown.

With the ball scrimmaged at the one, Burris appeared to punch it into the endzone, although the officials argued otherwise.

"Red zone is a focus every week but last week it was a matter of not executing when it came right down to it," said Copeland, leading the team with seven TDs.

"We know as an offence, and the coaches know, we just can't win game like that. We got away with one. It's something we'll focus a little more on this week."

Is the answer more sweat in the red zone?

"I don't know that we could do any more work than we have been doing," Buratto shrugged. "We'll certainly do the quarterback sneak, which we had some problems with."


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