Lynch willing to accept blame for Bills' running woes

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Marshawn Lynch ended months of silence Wednesday, offering a candid answer for who might be to blame for the Buffalo Bills' inconsistent running attack.

It starts with him.

"I'm speaking my piece for the running game," Lynch said during an impromptu news conference at his locker. "You can blame it on whoever you want to blame it on, but if you're looking for the right person to blame it on, I'm right here."

Lynch was then defiant in saying he can handle the criticism.

"If there's somebody on the team who's had a lot said about them, it's me," he said. "You can dump the trash on me. I'm going to dust it off, step on it and rise and keep going."

It's unclear what set Lynch off or why he chose this week to talk, with the Bills (6-7) all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention as they prepare to travel to the New York Jets (8-5) on Sunday.

Lynch hadn't spoken to Buffalo-area reporters since abruptly ending an interview session in September, when he was asked about a hit-and-run accident he pleaded guilty to in June. Lynch has been sensitive to the negative publicity during the monthlong investigation into the accident, in which a female pedestrian sustained minor injuries after being struck by a vehicle driven by Lynch.

On Wednesday, the questions focused solely on the Bills' running game, which ranks 21st in the NFL, and Lynch's performance this season, which isn't far off the pace of the first-round draft pick's rookie season last year.

Through 13 games, Lynch has averaged 4.0 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns, matching his numbers from last season, when he played only 13 games. And he has accomplished that despite having 218 rush attempts -- 62 fewer than last year. He also has played a bigger role in the receiving game this season, with 44 catches for 287 yards and one touchdown.

Lynch, however, is unhappy with his play, even though he's not getting as many rush attempts. He had a mere 13 carries for 31 yards in a 16-3 loss to Miami last weekend.

"That is 13 more carries than zero, so therefore I had the opportunity. I just didn't capitalize on them," Lynch said. "I am the feature back here, and I don't feel as the feature back I have played like it."

Coach Dick Jauron said the responsibility for the Bills' offense rests with him, not Lynch.

"Clearly, it's not just him. We all have to take it on our shoulders, and it starts with me," said Jauron, who acknowledged the Bills could have placed a bigger commitment on running the ball in some games this season.

The Bills haven't scored a touchdown in their past two games and squandered five trips inside the opponents' 20. During those five red-zone possessions, Buffalo gained 31 yards on 10 carries, and its quarterbacks went 2-for-5 for 16 yards with an interception and a sack.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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