Despite Mistakes, Dungy Pleased with Performance in Preseason-Opening Loss
CANTON, Ohio – Overall, Tony Dungy liked what he saw.
Yes, the Colts' seventh-year head coach said the preseason opener could have ended with a better result. And yes, there were mistakes made. Too many mistakes.
But Dungy said the Colts did plenty of positive things, enough to feel good.
The starting quarterback played well, and a reserve did, too.
Several young players made big plays.
The main thing the Colts didn't do was hold a second-half lead.
The Colts, playing in the NFL's preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game for the first time since 1996, took a four-point halftime lead and extended it to a touchdown before allowing three late touchdowns and losing to the Washington Redskins, 30-16, in front of 22,216 a Fawcett Stadium on Sunday night.
"It was a performance where we had a lot of good things and a lot of things to be pleased about," Dungy said afterward. "We had some mistakes, and as I told the team, 'Football is still that way.' The team that doesn't beat themselves has the best chance to win.
"All in all, we had some things to be encouraged about. We had some penalties we have to get straightened around and we had some errors, but we had a lot of good individual performances."
Peyton Manning, the Colts' eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback, missed the game after undergoing surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee in mid-July. It was just the fourth career missed preseason game for Manning, who never has missed an NFL regular-season start.
Jim Sorgi, Manning's backup the past four seasons, made his third career preseason start, playing one series and completing seven of 10 passes for 66 yards.
"We played some good football tonight," Sorgi said. "We could have done some things better, but we were in the game and they made more plays at the end."
Said Colts center Jeff Saturday, "A lot of young players stepped up and played well. I thought our offense moved the ball and our defense gave us a chance at the end. All of those things are really good qualities, that you look for in the first game.
"You want to see how guys are going to react to being in their first game in the NFL. I thought overall we showed well. The first offense moved the ball well. We moved the ball well. Sorg played well.
"I think there are a number of things to build on."
The Redskins drove 45 yards on the game's opening possession, using three plays and 1:17 before quarterback Jason Campbell threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in the left side of the end zone. The drive was set up when safety Chris Horton recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff.
On the ensuing possession, the Colts drove 73 yards on 16 plays, with kicker Adam Vinatieri connecting on a 26-yard field goal with 6:55 remaining in the first quarter.
The Redskins extended the lead to 9-3 when Colts center Jamey Richard snapped the ball over quarterback Quinn Gray's head and out of the end zone for a safety.
The Colts then took their first lead when Gray passed 30 yards to wide receiver Onrea Jones, a play that capped a 44-yard drive and made it, 10-9, with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter.
Colts cornerback T.J. Rushing set up the drive with a 19-yard punt return.
The Colts then extended the lead to four when Vinatieri converted a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the half. Gray drove the Colts 65 yards in five plays, a drive that lasted 29 seconds and was keyed by Gray's 47-yard completion to veteran receiver Courtney Roby with five seconds remaining in the half.
The Colts extended the lead to 16-9 when kicker Adam Crossett made a 26-yard field goal with 10:44 remaining in the third quarter. Rookie running back Mike Hart rushed four times for 53 yards on the drive.
The Redskins tied it with 5:51 remaining in the quarter when wide receiver Maurice Mann caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Colt Brennan, then secured the victory with 14 fourth-quarter points.
A 5-yard pass from Brennan to Marcus Mason with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Redskins a lead they never relinquished.
"Aside from the final score, I think we had some things to be pleased about," Dungy said. "Except for a couple of bad plays, which you can't have in this game, we had a lot of good individual performances."
Said Colts defensive end Raheem Brock, "It's a learning experience – mainly for the young guys, to see how they adapt and how they play under pressure. The young guys did a great job, especially on the defensive front, getting to the quarterback.
"That's our focus. We have to get to the quarterback and we did a great job of that."