Class, Success, Super Bowl Title Highlight Dungy's Tenure as Colts Head Coach
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy's era in Indianapolis ended Monday.
But what an era it was.
An era of class.
An era of high-profile accomplishment.
And, notably, an era of success, on and off the field.
Dungy, the Colts' head coach since January 22, 2002, announced his retirement from coaching in a 5 p.m. press conference Monday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, ending one of the most successful coaching tenures in Colts and NFL history.
How successful was Dungy's tenure in Indianapolis? Historically so.
Dungy, 53, in February of 2007 became the first African-American head coach of a Super Bowl champion when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
That was Dungy's most high-profile coaching moment. But it wasn't his only achievement – with the Colts, or when he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001.
Far from it.
Dungy, known as much for his character off the field as for his team's successes on it, went 85-27 in seven regular seasons with the Colts, leading them to five consecutive AFC South titles from 2003-2007 and to AFC Wild Card appearances in 2002 and this past season.
His overall record with Indianapolis was 92-33.
He also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001, leading a franchise that had 12 consecutive seasons with 10 or more losses to playoff appearances following the 1997, 1999-2001 seasons. He coached the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game following the 1999 season, and finished a 13-year NFL head coaching career with a regular-season record of 139-69 and a 148-79 postseason record.
Since Dungy's 2002 arrival, the Colts have turned in some of the most memorable seasons in franchise history, making the playoffs and winning 10 or more games every season.
This past season, the Colts became the first franchise in league history to win 12 or more games in six consecutive seasons, winning the last nine games in succession to reach the mark.
In each of Dungy's last five seasons, the Colts won seven or more consecutive games. That's the longest such streak in NFL history.
The Colts' playoff appearance this past season was not only the Colts' seventh in succession, it was his 10th in succession, including three with the Buccaneers. That's the longest such streak since the 1970 Merger. Dungy had shared the previous record of nine with former Dallas Cowboys and Hall of Fame Coach Tom Landry.
Quickly, a year-by-year look at Dungy's tenure in Indianapolis.
• 2002. The Colts, as would typically be the case under Dungy, started the season hot, then used a memorable midseason streak to qualify for the postseason for the third time in four seasons. They won their first game under Dungy, 28-25, at Jacksonville, beginning a pattern of success in the AFC South that would span Dungy's tenure. They slipped to 4-4 before traveling to Philadelphia for a 35-13 victory that marked the start of a four-game, momentum-changing winning streak. Included in that streak was a 23-20 overtime victory at Denver in which kicker Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 54-yard field goal with :03 remaining in regulation to force overtime and a 51-yard field goal 5:38 into overtime to give the Colts the victory. The Colts clinched a Wild Card appearance with a 20-13 victory over Jacksonville in the regular-season finale at the RCA Dome before a loss to the New York Jets in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game the following week. Rookie defensive end Dwight Freeney set a franchise record with 13 sacks and quarterback Peyton Manning made the first of seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances under Dungy.
• 2003. The season began with a five-game winning streak that helped the Colts to the first of four "wire-to-wire" AFC South championships under Dungy. Included in that streak was one of the most-memorable comebacks in NFL history, a 38-35 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which the Colts trailed 35-14 with less than four minutes remaining. The Colts became the only team in NFL history to win after trailing by 21 points with less than four minutes remaining and scored three touchdowns in the final 3:00 to force overtime in Dungy's only game in Tampa Bay since he left that organization in 2002. The Colts won seven of their final 11 games, clinching their first division title in four years with a 17-point fourth-quarter rally in a 20-17 victory at Houston in the regular-season finale. They beat Denver, 41-10, in an AFC Wild Card game and Kansas City, 38-31, in an AFC Divisional Playoff before losing at New England in the AFC Championship Game. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning shared the Associated Press' NFL Most Valuable Player award with Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair.
• 2004. After a 4-3 start, the Colts were in second place behind Jacksonville in the AFC South. Eight games later, they had clinched a second division title and their quarterback had made NFL history. Manning, en route to his second consecutive MVP award, set NFL records for touchdown passes in a season (49) and seasonal passer rating (121.1). Manning set the record in a memorable, 34-31 overtime victory over San Diego at the RCA Dome, with his 21-yarder to wide receiver Brandon Stokley in the fourth quarter breaking Dan Marino's NFL record (48) and sending the game to overtime. The Colts beat Denver, 49-24, in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game in the RCA Dome before losing to New England in an AFC Divisional Playoff game. Freeney recorded 16 sacks on the season and became the first Colts player to officially lead the NFL in sacks.
• 2005. The Colts started the season 13-0, becoming the first team in NFL history to win its first 13 games by at least seven points. They clinched the AFC South and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a 26-18 victory at Jacksonville, their third consecutive South title and second in which they led the South from start to finish. On October 17 of that season, Indianapolis rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit for a 45-28 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football. In that game, Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison set the NFL record for touchdown passes by a tandem. The following week at Houston, Dungy became the 35th head coach in NFL history to win 100 or more games in a career. Colts running back Edgerrin James, in his final season with the Colts, made his fourth Pro Bowl, and at season's end, Dungy's 102 victories marked the fourth-highest total by a coach in his first 10 seasons. The Colts, who finished 14-2 that regular season, lost at home to Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Playoff game.
• 2006. The Colts, after a fourth consecutive season with at least 12 victories and a fourth consecutive AFC South-title season, swept to four consecutive postseason victories, including a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. The Colts won their first nine games of the season and led the AFC South from start to finish for the third time in four seasons, clinching the title in mid-December. The Colts held Kansas City without a first down for the first 42 minutes of a 23-8 victory in an AFC Wild Card Playoff Game at the RCA Dome before winning a defensive battle, 15-6, the following week in an AFC Divisional Playoff game at Baltimore. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri converted 5-for-5 field goals against the Ravens, clinching the victory with :23 remaining. The following week in the AFC Championship Game, the Colts overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to beat the New England Patriots, 38-34, to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1971. The Colts had second-half scoring drives of 76, 76, 67, 59 and 80 yards, with running back Joseph Addai's 1-yard run with 1:00 remaining giving Indianapolis the lead. Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to secure the victory. The Colts beat the Bears two weeks later to win their first World Championship of the Indianapolis era, with Manning receiving the game's Most Valuable Player award. The defense produced five turnovers and allowed 11 first downs.
• 2007. The Colts led the AFC South wire-to-wire for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in five years, winning the division for a franchise-record fifth consecutive season. Indianapolis went 7-0 to start the season and after midseason losses to New England and San Diego, the Colts won six consecutive games to clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC postseason. The Colts lost to the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Divisional Playoff game in the final game played in the RCA Dome. Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne made a second consecutive Pro Bowl and led the AFC in receiving yards, and safety Bob Sanders – a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 – was named the Associated Press' Defensive Player of the Year.
• 2008. After a 3-4 start, their first sub-.500 start through seven games in a decade, the Colts won their final nine games to secure an NFL-record sixth consecutive season with 12 or more victories. Manning, after missing the preseason and training camp after off-season knee surgery, completed 17 touchdown passes with three interceptions during the nine-game winning streak. He was named MVP for a third time in six seasons, and Manning, Wayne, Freeney and defensive end Robert Mathis were named to the Pro Bowl.