First Goal-Line Stand in Five Seasons Key to Colts Victory, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – In a sense, Tony Dungy said, it was a matter of time.
It so happened that time came at the perfect time.
And when Eric Foster, a rookie free-agent defensive tackle, stuffed Pittsburgh Steelers running back Mewelde Moore on a 3rd-and-goal from the one-yard line on Sunday afternoon, Dungy – in his seventh-year as the Colts' head coach – said the team had something it very much needed.
And its first goal-line stand in a long, long time.
"It was really just a goal line charge," Dungy said Monday, a day after the Colts' defense forced three turnovers and held the Steelers to a second-half field goal in a 24-20 victory at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"It's something we've been working on. We hadn't been very effective at it. But we got some penetration last night."
The stand came with the score tied 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter. After a nine-yard run by running back Mewelde Moore, the Steelers faced 1st-and-goal at the Colts 5.
First, safety Antoine Bethea tackled Moore at the one to set up 2nd-and-goal and on the ensuing play, rookie defensive tackle Eric Foster and defensive end Robert Mathis stopped Moore for no gain.
On 3rd-and-1, the Steelers again ran Moore up the middle, and Foster hit him hard for no gain, forcing the short field goal by Jeff Reed. Dungy said the 3rd-and-goal play came on a play the Steelers twice had run to score on goal-line runs in the first half.
"They ran the same play five times," Dungy said. "They scored twice. We kept looking at the pictures: 'Here's where they're going to run.' The same guy went in motion. By that time, you had to know a guy what was coming.
"The last two times, we got some good penetration and stopped it."
The last time the Colts had such a goal-line stand, Dungy said, was against the Cleveland Browns in the 2003 regular-season opener. The Colts twice that day stopped the Browns on three consecutive runs from inside the five-yard line, holding the Browns to two field goals in a 9-6 victory.
HEADY STUFF: The defense wasn't perfect and Dungy said the Colts actually plan it differently than it played out. But he said the results were fine.
Trailing 24-20, the Steelers had driven into Colts territory in the game's final minute. On the game's final play, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw into the end zone from the Colts 27.
The ball was tipped by Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington and Colts cornerback Tim Jennings and appeared headed for Steelers receiver Dallas Baker. But Colts safety Melvin Bullitt stuck out his right hand and made a one-handed interception in the end zone.
"We didn't quite get lined up the way we normally would," Dungy said. "If we had time to get set up for that play, we normally would have one guy jumping trying to knock the ball down. It ended up OK, but not the way we're going to practice it if we're going to diagram it for the last play of the game."
Of Bullitt's interception, Dungy added, "Good, smart play. He knew Tim Jennings was going to go up for it. He did a really, smart, veteran-type thing and fortunately he was there to get it.
"It would have been a heartbreaking way to lose."
ETC., ETC.: Wide receiver Reggie Wayne sustained an ankle sprain Sunday, but Dungy said he expects Wayne to play against Houston Sunday. "He's gotten banged up a little bit the last two weeks," Dungy said. "He finds a way to keep going. I don't know how much he'll be able to practice, but my sense is he'll be ready Sunday. It was one of those things that I think he was worried it may get worse. He was able to play on it and it didn't seem to affect him." Wayne caught six passes for 114 yards and a 65-yard touchdown Sunday. . . . Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who missed 11 games with a knee injury last season, caught three passes for 37 yards Sunday. Harrison, who had at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns every season from 1999-2006, has 30 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns this season. "He's 100 percent," Dungy said. "It's just one of those stretches we're going through. We've taken those plays for granted ever since I've been here, that we're normally going to get two or three deep shots, and when we get them set up, they're usually touchdowns. Reggie catches two tipped balls and he's covered pretty well. We have Marvin open and haven't been able to hit them. We just have to keep working, but he's 100 percent and hopefully, we'll hit some of those in the second half of the year. . . . If he wasn't getting open and wasn't getting behind people I'd be concerned, but every game we seem to get him behind people. We've taken those for granted I think we'll hit them in the future, hopefully." . . . Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, making a second consecutive start after being signed as a free agent a week and a half ago, had a key interception, a pass defensed and a tackle for loss along with eight tackles on Sunday. Ratliff was released twice by the Colts earlier this season before being re-signed after a season-ending injury to Marlin Jackson. "He has had that perseverance that a coach appreciates, where he's kind of the last guy on the totem pole," Dungy said. "He gets released and you say, 'Hey, stay alive. Get us your phone number.' He always has done that. He has been ready. He hasn't looked at it like, 'Gee, they're mistreating me.' When we call him he's ready to go. He has come in and played well with not too much notice the last two weeks.''