A Day Later, Dungy Says 29-13 Loss to Chicago Doesn't Look Much Better
INDIANAPOLIS – An odd feeling got odder for Tony Dungy a day later.
The Colts, after winning their regular-season opener five times in Dungy's first six seasons as the head coach, not only lost to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, they lost in the first regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium – the first time since 2002 they had lost their home opener.
That was unusual, but Dungy said a more unusual feeling came Monday, a day when typically after a loss things Dungy said things look a bit brighter.
On Monday, Dungy said that wasn't the case. Not even close.
"Looking at tape, usually on Monday you come in and you say, 'Well, it wasn't as bad after we looked at the tape – it wasn't as bad as we thought,' '' Dungy said Monday, a day after the Colts lost to the Bears, 29-13, in the 2008 regular-season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It was. This was one of those exceptions."
The Colts, who entered the game with 18 victories in 20 September games under Dungy, lost a regular season-opener for the first time since 2004, when they lost to defending and eventual Super Bowl champion New England, 27-24, in Foxboro, Mass.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, had started the last three seasons with extended winning streaks, starting 13-0 in 2005, 9-0 in 2006 and 7-0 in 2007. They also started 5-0 in 2003 en route to their first AFC South title.
"It's definitely disappointing," Colts safety and 2007 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders said. "We have a lot to improve on and we have to do it quick. The season moves fast. We definitely have to correct our mistakes and not let it happen again.
"We have some tough opponents coming up. We have to be ready. No excuses, No explanations. We have to do our job, and do it like we're supposed to."
In 2004, the Colts won four consecutive games after losing the season opener. They play the Minnesota Vikings, who played at Green Bay Monday Night, on Sunday in Minneapolis before playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars – an AFC wild-card team last season and the AFC South runner-up – the following Sunday.
"We just have to do things like we're supposed to and go up to Minnesota and get a victory," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said.
"That's why we're in here today, to put yesterday behind us and get focused on next week," offensive tackle Tony Ugoh said.
Chicago, which led 15-6 at halftime, scored nine points defensively, with defensive end Adewale Ogunleye tackling running back Joseph Addai for safety in the first half and linebacker Lance Briggs returning a fumble 21 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. The Bears outrushed the Colts, 183-53, and the Colts' defense – which finished second in the NFL in total defense and first in points allowed last season – allowed 319 total yards.
The Bears' 29 points were more than any Colts opponent scored last season.
"I just really have to give a lot of credit to Chicago," Dungy said, adding of the difference between Sunday night and the Colts' 29-17 victory over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, "They didn't play a whole lot differently than the last time we played them. They didn't do too much differently than what we expected, but they executed very well.
"They played hard. They played sharp. They tackled well. They didn't give up too many big plays."
Said Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden, "It was a play here and a play there that determined the game. That's how it is every week. It may come down to three or four plays that hurt you. It's tough. It's tough to think about, but you take it as a learning experience and move on. It is a marathon. It's Week One. Now, we have to move on to Week 2.
"We'll take it step by step and hopefully, we'll get this thing turned around."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, underwent knee surgery to remove an infected bursa sac 10 days before the July 24 start of training camp, and did not play in the preseason. He started and played the whole game against Chicago, completing 30 of 49 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
"I'm sure like all of us he wanted to play better," Dungy said. "It certainly wasn't one person and as I said (Sunday) night, you couldn't put this on, 'Well, if Peyton had played in the preseason and been a little sharper we could have won the game.'
"We had a lot of areas that we needed to sharpen up to be able to win that game."
The Colts, after taking a 3-0 lead, allowed a 50-yard first-quarter touchdown run to rookie Matt Forte – the longest run allowed by Indianapolis since 2006. The Bears extended the lead to 15-6 at halftime.
Indianapolis made it 15-13 when Manning threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne (10 receptions, 86 yards), but never retook the lead. The Bears converted 10 of 16 third downs.
"They just played sharp ball," Dungy said. "We didn't. It was disappointing. There's really no excuse for it. It's a game you can't get back. We have to move forward at this point and get ready for Minnesota, but it was certainly a disappointing way to start our home season.
"I don't think it was complacency, but I think they came out with the idea that they had to come in and play hard and play well to win. I think we had the same idea, but as the game went on and we just missed on a couple of things, I'm not sure what happened.
"In the second half, when the game was on the line, they made the plays and we didn't."
Dungy said because of that, the Colts' first regular-season game in Lucas Oil Stadium ended in disappointing fashion.
"It was a nice atmosphere," he said. "You knew it was going to be and that was kind of the disappointing thing – to have all of that going for us and have a great crowd, opening night, and not play well -- that was very, very tough.
"It's a great atmosphere and it's going to be a great home field."
Still, Dungy said despite the disappointment, and despite the unusual feeling of the past two days, the season is far from over, and actually, barely has begun.
"Winning opening day doesn't guarantee you anything, and losing opening day certainly doesn't exclude you from anything," Dungy said. "I think that's the way the league is going to be. Every week is going to be tough no matter who you're playing. There are going to be upsets and there are going to be teams that come on and play better than people thought.
"Our task is to get ourselves back going and play the way we can play. We have 15 long weeks before we figure out where we settle in."