DATE: Sunday, September 7, 2008
SITE: Lucas Oil Stadium
KICKOFF: 8:15 p.m. (EDT)/7:15 p.m. (CDT)
Indianapolis and Chicago are meeting for the first time in league play since the Colts took a 29-17 victory over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007. Sunday's contest is the fifth-ever opener between the clubs, but it is the first such contest since the 1975 season. The Colts topped Chicago in games to open the 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1975 seasons.
Sunday's contest marks the fifth consecutive season the Colts have participated in a nationally-televised opener. The club opened the 2004 season at New England, dropping a last-minute 27-24 decision on September 9. Indianapolis produced a 24-7 win at Baltimore on September 11, 2005. Indianapolis earned a 26-21 win at the New York Giants on September 10, 2006. Last year, the Colts posted a 41-10 home victory over New Orleans on September 6. Indianapolis has won eight of its last nine season-openers. Since 1953, the Colts own an opening day mark of 31-24, including a record of 15-16 against AFC clubs and 16-8 versus NFC clubs. Dungy holds an 8-4 record on opening day. The Colts are opening a season at home for the second consecutive season, after not having a home opener since 1999. Indianapolis enters Sunday's game having won 21 consecutive outings in September and October, dating back to the 2004 season. The 21-game streak is the best pre-November NFL streak since Green Bay won 23 consecutive from 1928-32. In that streak, the Colts are 7-0 against NFC competition. Under Dungy, the Colts are 19-5 versus the NFC during regular-season play, including a five-game cross-conference winning streak. The club was 4-0 against the NFC North in 2004.
Owners of the NFL's best regular-season record (102-42) since the start of the 1999 season, while being the only team to earn eight playoff appearances in the last nine seasons, Indianapolis has won 47 of its last 57 regular-season games. Indianapolis' winning ways include a 28-8 record in AFC South play, while the club has owned or shared the lead in 95 of 102 weeks of the division's existence, including the last 60 consecutive weeks. The Colts have won the past five AFC South championships, the best divisional-title streak in club history. In 2007, Indianapolis produced its sixth consecutive 10 -victory season, tying the third-longest streak in NFL history (16, San Francisco, 1983-98; 7, Dallas, 1975-81; 6, Dallas, 1968-73; 6, Miami 1970-75; 6, LA Rams, 1973-78; 6, Dallas, 1991-96; 6, Colts, 2002-07). Indianapolis became the only NFL team with five consecutive 12 -victory seasons. The Colts were tied with Dallas (1992-95) as the only teams to do it four consecutive seasons.
The Colts begin the 2008 season with 17 new players on roster. The current roster breakdown of experience revealing the club with only 7 players exceeding 30 years of age, 34 players being 25 years of age and under and an average age of 25.7. The NFL experience of the roster finds 23 players with four or more years of service, while 30 of 53 active players with the club have three years experience or less. The average experience for a Colts player on the opening-day roster is 4.2 years. A total of 36 of 53 players on the active roster finished last season with the club, while 17 new players are on hand (9 via the draft, 6 via free agency and 2 via trades or waivers). As of opening day (9/7), the ages of Colts players are as follows: 22-4; 23-13; 24-10; 25-7; 26-1; 27-5; 28-2; 29-4; 30-1; 31-2; 32-1; 33-1; 35-1; 36-1. As of opening day, the NFL experience of Colts players is as follows: Rookie-12; 1st year-2; 2nd-10; 3rd-6; 4th-5; 5th-4; 6th-3; 7th-2; 8th-3; 9th-1; 10th-2; 11th-1; 13th-2. The roster composition reflects 33 draft picks, 3 players acquired via waivers/trades, 1 acquired via unrestricted free agency and 16 acquired via free agency (including 3 rookie free agents). The following players on the active roster entered the NFL as undrafted free agents (began as Colt): C-Jeff Saturday, TE-Justin Snow(), LB-Gary Brackett(), DE-Josh Thomas(), DT-Darrell Reid(), RB-Dominic Rhodes(), OT-Dan Federkeil(), DB-Melvin Bullitt(), DT-Ed Johnson(), DT-Daniel Muir, TE-Gijon Robinson(), DT-Eric Foster(), DE-Curtis Johnson(), LB-Jordan Senn(*) and K-Adam Vinatieri. A total of 47 of 53 active players have played only for the Colts in the NFL. The players who have NFL experience other than with the Colts are LB-Buster Davis, DT-Daniel Muir, DB-Keiwan Ratliff, RB-Dominic Rhodes, WR-Courtney Roby and Vinatieri.
TELEVISION/RADIO: NBC Sports telecasts with Al Michaels, John Madden and Andrea Kremer (field reporter). 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM, 97.1 broadcasts with Bob Lamey and Will Wolford. Westwood One provides national radio coverage with Dave Sims and Jim Fassel.
NEXT WEEK: Indianapolis visits Minnesota on Sunday, September 14 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
**WWW.COLTS.COM**: Please check the official website of the Indianapolis Colts for the latest in team information and merchandise.
TONY DUNGY is 73-23 at the Colts' helm. Dungy joined the Colts on January 22, 2002, after serving as Tampa Bay's head coach for six seasons (1996-01). Dungy's career regular-season record is 127-65, and he has an overall record of 136-74. Dungy became the 35th coach in NFL history to earn 100 career victories with a 38-20 win at Houston on 10/23/05. Dungy became the 20th coach since entering the league in 1970 to win 100 career games. Of those 20, only George Seifert (132), Joe Gibbs (148), Mike Ditka (151), Mike Holmgren (160) and Mike Shanahan (161) reached 100 career wins faster than Dungy's pace of 163 games. Dungy recorded his 100th regular-season victory vs. Tennessee 12/4/05, becoming only the 6th coach to win 100 regular-season games in the first 10 years as a head coach (113, Seifert; 105, Don Shula; 103, John Madden; 102, Dungy; 101, Gibbs; 101, Ditka). With an overall mark of 80-28, Dungy became the winningest coach in Colts history with a 31-7 win at Carolina on 10/28/07, bettering the prior total of 73 by Shula and Ted Marchibroda. Dungy owns a 103-41 mark since the start of the 1999 season (30-18 at Tampa Bay; 73-23 with Colts), and he is the NFL's winningest coach during that span. He has directed 10 of his 12 teams into the playoffs, while leading Tampa Bay (1999) and the Colts (2003, 2006) to the conference championship game, and his 2006 Colts squad won Super Bowl XLI. Dungy took Tampa Bay to four playoff appearances during his tenure as field general. From 2002-07, Dungy has directed the Colts to 10-6, 12-4, 12-4, 14-2, 12-4 and 13-3 records, becoming the only coach in club history to produce 10 victories and playoff berths in the first six seasons with the team. In 2007, Dungy helped produce the 17th 10 -victory season in franchise history, and he is one of five Colts head coaches to earn double-digit victory totals (6, Dungy; 4, Shula; 3, Marchibroda; 2, Don McCafferty; 2, Jim Mora). Dungy