All Not Perfect Around Colts Despite 28-Point Victory, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn't a completely happy Monday.
Tony Dungy, in his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said early Monday afternoon there was plenty about which to be pleased a day after the Colts' most one-sided victory since the 2007 regular-season opener.
The offense was as efficient as it has been all season. The run defense improved.
And the special teams kicked and covered well.
The result was a 31-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts' second consecutive victory, and their first in Lucas Oil Stadium, but Dungy said just as things were not tragic following home losses in two of the first four games, the tape Monday revealed a less-than-perfect performance.
"I guess it's kind of the reverse of the last couple of weeks," Dungy said Monday, a day after the Colts produced 334 yards and four touchdowns against a team that entered the game ranked No. 1 in every major statistical defensive category.
"You look at it and you're happy you won," Dungy added during his weekly next-day press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "We did some good things to put 31 points on the board, but there are still some things we have to work on, some areas we have to get cleaned up."
The Colts (3-2), after trailing in each of their first four games and rallying from double-digit deficits on the road in their first two victories, took leads of 17-0 after the first quarter, 24-0 at halftime and 31-0 early in the third quarter.
The victory was the Colts' first at Lucas Oil Stadium – the new, state-of-the-art, retractable-roof stadium in downtown Indianapolis – after two regular-season and two preseason losses. Indianapolis also had lost the last two home games in the RCA Dome last season.
"It does feel good, just going out there playing a complete game," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "We hadn't done that thus far this season, and it was good to get that done Sunday at home."
The victory, which followed a 31-27 come-from-behind victory over Houston the week before, put the Colts two games behind AFC South-leader Tennessee (5-0), which was idle Sunday, and a half game ahead of Jacksonville (3-3), 24-17 winners at Denver Sunday.
The Colts are now one of seven AFC teams over .500 – Buffalo (4-1), New England (3-2) and New York (3-2) in the East, Pittsburgh in the North, Tennessee (5-0) and Indianapolis in the South and Denver (4-2) in the West – six weeks into the season. Six teams from each conference make the postseason.
The Colts will visit NFC North-leading Green Bay (3-3) Sunday, then will visit Tennessee the following Monday.
"The only thing I know right now is we're not No. 1 in our division," Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "You've got to take care of everything in-house first, then we'll worry about that."
The Colts moved above .500 Sunday with a balanced performance, one Dungy said was strong offensively, defensively and – as imant – on special teams.
Peyton Manning, the Colts' eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback, completed 19 of 28 passes for 271 yards and a season-high three touchdowns without an interception for a season-high 134.7 passer rating. Wayne caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, while eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison caught three passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Manning threw an early 67-yard touchdown pass to Harrison, the receiver's longest reception since 2006. He also hit Wayne on a 63-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that was nullified by a holding penalty. The Colts had just one pass of more than 40 yards in the first four games.
"We were just a little bit sharper on offense, and a couple of the deep balls that we'd just been missing we hit," Dungy said. "That made a big difference."
The defense, after entering the game ranked 32nd against the run, limited the Ravens to 51 yards on 19 carries, including 14 yards on 12 first-half carries.
"I thought our run defense early in the game was stout and helped us get on track," Dungy said. Defensively, I just thought we played faster. We weren't as hesitant and we pulled the trigger a little bit faster with our linebackers and secondary.
"Once we got the lead, it becomes a lot easier to play. It was really playing a little bit sharper more than anything else."
The Colts also created five turnovers, and including three in the last five minutes in the victory over Houston, Indianapolis has forced eight turnovers on the last 15 opponents possessions. They now have 10 takeaways this season and six giveaways for a turnover differential of plus-four, third-best in the NFL.
The Colts forced two turnovers in the first 15 quarters this season and eight in the last five.
"We got the takeaways that we've been looking for, and hadn't gotten the first few weeks," Dungy said. "It's maybe a thing that's averaging out. We went a long time without getting any, and we feel like we can stress that and get it done. We have takeaway players and we weren't getting them. . . .
"I wish I knew why. I thought we hustled and played faster Sunday – for whatever reason, but we did play faster. Usually, when you're playing faster and playing better, you get those takeaways."
Dungy said the Colts' early effectiveness on offense, coupled with the defense's early effectiveness against the run, created an ideal scenario defensively. The Colts, in a position to focus on the pass rush defensively, did do, finishing with four sacks, including three by defensive end Robert Mathis.
"When we're putting points on the board, that obviously helps," Dungy said. "This was a team (Baltimore) that had been averaging 41 runs a game and that's the way they wanted to play – close to the vest, rely on their defense and play field position. All of a sudden, you get up two scores and it makes them play a different game. That does help us, but we have to be able to play whatever style the game ends up being. We have to be able to stop people from running the ball. You can't always rely on being three touchdowns ahead.
"Anybody would like to play when they're ahead and the other team is one-dimensional. That's when you have fun. It's not just us. It's any defense. I watched San Diego Sunday night when they got up on New England (in a 30-10 Chargers victory) – they looked like they were having fun."
One area about which Dungy said he was particularly displeased was that of penalties. Historically one of the NFL's least-penalized teams under Dungy, the Colts this season have committed 34 penalties for 237 yards compared to 67 for 515 in 16 games last season.
On Sunday, the Colts committed 11 penalties for 84 yards.
"We weren't happy with that, and in a tight game, those kinds of penalties can really come back to hurt you," Dungy said. "We have to look at clearing some things up and try to continue to get a little bit better, but it was good to see our offense get on track early against a very tough defense. There was a lot to be happy about, and now we just have to tighten up some of those fine points."