A Day Later, Dungy Still Pleased with Victory over Minnesota
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy didn't dwell on the negatives.
Dungy, in his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said on Monday afternoon there was plenty about a victory over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday that will be addressed this week, and plenty of areas that need to be improved entering the first AFC South game of the season.
But what Dungy said was most imant was this:
The Colts faced obstacles Sunday.
They faced adversity.
And when they needed to, they found a way to win.
"It was a big win for us, one that looked like it was in doubt for a long time," Dungy said Monday, a day after the Colts rallied from a 15-0 third-quarter deficit to beat the Vikings, 18-15, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.
"I was really proud of the guys for the way we fought and the way we continued to work even though we were working uphill a lot of the time. It was good win for us. All of the things you preach in the offseason program and in training camp and during the week – that you have to continue to fight and continue to battle and hang in there, and if you can keep the game close enough where you just need a couple of big plays to win it, then anything can happen.
"That's the way a lot of NFL games are and that's pretty much what happened."
The Colts (1-1) will play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 4:15 p.m. The Jaguars, last year's AFC South runners-up, lost to the Buffalo Bills, 20-16, in Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions and a playoff team eight of the past nine seasons, last week lost their regular-season opener for the first time since 2004. Indianapolis had not started a season 0-2 since 1998, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's rookie season.
They had not made the playoffs after an 0-2 start since 1987.
"We certainly didn't want to go to 0-2 and put ourselves in that kind of a hole," Dungy said during his weekly next-day news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"Like Peyton said, 'You can't take these for granted," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "It's tough – the National Football League, being on the road, being down most of the game . . .
"Being able to sustain and come back and get a victory – I think that was huge for this team."
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 yards on 29 carries, but Minnesota never scored a touchdown. Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell kicked field goals of 45, 27, 53, 46 and 28 yards, but missed on a 48-yard, fourth-quarter attempt.
"That was huge," Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. "It says a lot. Coach Dungy always preaches about how the game is four quarters. That was a great prime example of what he preaches right there. Usually, our offense gets out fast, which they didn't, but our defense had to step up and make plays and wait for the offense to get to clicking.
"That's what happened. The defense held them, didn't give up touchdowns and the offense came around. That's a prime example that the game is four quarters and not lost in the first or second quarter. It's what you do the whole game."
The Colts, who trailed 9-0 at halftime and 15-0 in the third quarter, rallied with a 1-yard touchdown run by Joseph Addai in the third quarter, then pulled to within 15-13 when Manning passed 32 yards to Reggie Wayne with 5:54 remaining in the game.
Running back Dominic Rhodes' two-point conversion run tied the game after Wayne's touchdown, then kicker Adam Vinatieri's 47-yard field goal with three seconds remaining provided the game-winning points.
"We didn't play extremely well," Dungy said. "They had a good plan offensively and defensively for where we are. They got the lead, but we were able to stay within striking distance. They had very, very good pass rush, putting pressure on us all day. Their defensive backs really started crowding us."
Dungy said that happened from the start. On the first of two interceptions thrown by Manning, Dungy said it appeared from reviewing tape that Winfield played wide receiver Marvin Harrison tighter than usual, assuming that the Vikings' pass rush would prevent Manning from having time to throw deep.
Manning, with left tackle Tony Ugoh out the second half with a groin injury, played behind a line that featured two rookies – center Jamey Richard and guard Steve Justice – and two players who combined have started less than a full NFL season (guard Dan Federkeil and tackle Charlie Johnson) and completed 26 of 42 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
Manning, who did not play in the preseason after undergoing knee surgery just before training camp, completed 13 of 21 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with an interception in the second half, during which the Colts outscored Minnesota, 18-6.
"We hit a couple in the second half and got going and hung in there," Dungy said, adding, "It's just a matter of him (Manning) playing a little bit more and getting sharper. That was a very, very tough situation. I thought all of our guys hung in there, but you have to give him a lot of credit for delivering and getting the balls to the right people in that circumstance."
Dungy said the Colts committed too many penalties – five for 45 yards – and said the problem was particularly noticeable on special teams. He also said the Colts had too many assignment errors, something he said must be corrected quickly.
"It's not necessarily who's not in there, or, 'If we had this guy we'd be better,''' Dungy said. "The guys we have can do the job. We have to be just a little sharper. We have to play a little more sure of ourselves, then we'll be fine."
Dungy said that improved on Sunday, particularly defensively, and particularly in the second half. Peterson, after rushing for 118 yards on 14 first-half carries, rushed for 42 yards on 15 second-half carries.
"We got sharper," Dungy said. "I thought we pulled the trigger a little faster once we recognized the blocking schemes and we have to be able to do that. It's still a matter of doing what you're supposed to do, even when you're playing against a great back.
"Part of it was Peterson, making you a little bit hesitant, but in the second half, I thought we pulled the trigger a little bit better and held those runs down. We have to continue to improve. Our young guys are getting a baptism by fire. We'll continue to get better."
Said Brackett, "Guys just played a little bit better. The same runs they were doing in the first half they did in the second half. We just put up a little bit better. I guess we got comfortable with what they were doing. We just played fast, got to the ball and made some tackles."