Dungy Calls Opening Night Loss in Lucas Oil Stadium "Disappointing Evening"
INDIANAPOLIS – As grand openings go, this wasn't what Tony Dungy wanted.
The Colts, after 24 years playing home games in the RCA Dome, moved into their new, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Indianapolis on Sunday night, a game before which Dungy – the Colts' seventh-year head coach – and the Colts offensive and defensive starters talked extensively of improved play and consistency.
On this night, Dungy said they didn't get it.
Instead, they committed turnovers. They made mistakes. They missed opunities.
Overall, Dungy said, the Colts did what they too often have done this preseason, and as a result, they lost 20-7, to the Buffalo Bills (2-1) in the first preseason game ever played at Lucas Oil Stadium, their third loss in four 2008 preseason games.
"It was a rather disappointing evening for us," Dungy said minutes after the Colts committed five turnovers and lost for the 14th time in their last 17 preseason games.
"We wanted to play much better opening up the new stadium, but it didn't happen. I thought Buffalo came in and outplayed us. We'd seen it on tape. They did the same thing with Pittsburgh and Washington (in the Bills' first two preseason games).
"They have a nice, very good, physical team. . . . They outplayed us tonight."
The Colts, playing without starting quarterback Peyton Manning and backup quarterback Jim Sorgi, fell behind 17-0 at halftime and one of their preseason-high five turnovers was a second-quarter fumble that Bills cornerback Terrence McGee turned into a 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Sorgi, who had started the Colts' first three preseason games, had a gimpy knee, the Colts announced Sunday. He sat out the game because of a coach's decision, the club announced.
Manning has yet to practice this preseason/training camp after undergoing surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his knee 10 days before training camp.
"Jim got hit in the game last week (against Atlanta)," Dungy said. "He came out of that OK, practiced on Wednesday and did fine. He just had a little more swelling and a little more soreness every day. Even yesterday (Saturday), he was still pretty good. He took our final drill work, but in the warm-ups, he didn't feel 100 percent.
"If it was a regular-season game, he probably would have played, but we felt it was best not to play. There was no point in jeopardizing him tonight."
Dungy said the hope is that Manning and Sorgi each will return soon.
"Hopefully, those guys will both be back and get some practice time next week," Dungy said.
Asked if he believed Sorgi would play in the preseason finale against Cincinnati Thursday, Dungy said, "We'll see how it goes. We thought he'd be good enough to play tonight and wasn't. I know he wants to get some time. He was very disappointed.
"He was really looking forward to this one, but we told him, 'We've got more games to play.' Hopefully, he can go Thursday."
Reserve quarterback Quinn Gray completed 8 of 16 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, also throwing four second-half interceptions, including one that stopped a Colts drive in the end zone.
"We had a chance to get back in it, but the turnovers on our part really kind of took the wind out of our sails and defensively, we couldn't force any," Dungy said.
Veteran Jared Lorenzen, who joined the Colts shortly before training camp, started at quarterback, completing 7 of 11 passes for 52 yards.
"Luckily, we play again Thursday, so we can come out and change everything and get a win," Lorenzen said.
Defensively, the Colts held the Bills to 257 total yards, including 100 rushing on 42 carries, a 2.4-yards-per carry average. The Bills finished with 157 yards passing.
"I think we did some good things," said Colts safety Bob Sanders, who started after missing the first three preseason games. "Obviously, you come in and you want to win. With us losing, I think there were some good things in there. Some younger guys played well. We got a lot of reps from the veterans. That's what's going to help us in the long run."
Shortly before kickoff, in a ceremony overseen by Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay, the Colts opened the new stadium's retractable roof and moveable window wall, marking the first time in the team's 25 seasons in Indianapolis it played a home game in Indianapolis outdoors.
The team played home games in the RCA Dome from 1984 through last season.
The Bills took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, with kicker Rian Lindell's 36-yard field goal with 2:31 remaining in the quarter the only scoring.
The Bills extended the lead to 10-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Xavier Omon. With 1:43 remaining in the half, the Bills went ahead by 17 points when cornerback Terrence McGee returned a fumble by Colts running back Joseph Addai 68 yards for a touchdown.
Gray, who started the second half at quarterback, threw a 94-yard touchdown to veteran wide receiver Devin Aromashodu with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter to cut into the Bills lead.
"We had a double post," Aromashodu said. "I guess Quinn must have looked off the safety. I had single coverage on the corner. I had a deep post and he just threw a good ball.
"I just ran into the end zone hoping no one caught me."
After closing the preseason at Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday against Cincinnati, the Colts are scheduled to open the season at home against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 7, on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
"It was one of those days where we just didn't get the job done," Dungy said. "It was a little disappointing, but we'll bounce back. We've got a short week and we've got to get ready for Cincinnati and get ready to get our roster cut down next week."
Said Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson, "We're still not thrilled. We still have things to work on. We're not there yet, but it's preseason. We still have two weeks of practice to get it there. I think we'll be fine once we get to the regular season and it's live and it really counts.
"You can't lose confidence. We know we have things we have to work on as a unit. We have to gel and continue to get better as a unit. I think we will. There's no doubt in my mind. The type of people we have in this locker room and this organization, we'll be able to get that done."