Dungy: "There Wasn't A Lot of Panic"

Colts head coach Tony Dungy met with the media on Monday and talked about his team's mental toughness during a big road game, Dallas Clark's performance, why the defense yielded some season-highs, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

(on TE-Dallas Clark)
"He's really a good player, he's blocked well for us, he hustles, he plays hard and he just hasn't had that role where he was going to be the featured guy in the passing game this year. Going into the game we thought we could play a lot of two tight ends, keep their linebackers and run defenders in the game and see if we could split them out and get some match-ups and it happened that way. Then in the third quarter they played nickel and put [DB-Keiwan] Ratliff on him and we got our running game going. The fact that he can do a lot of things really helps us and he's capable of having those kinds of days when his number is called."

(on the third down conversions against the Bengals)
"Yesterday we were really good on the long yardage. We put ourselves in some long yardage situations and were still able to convert. For the most part in this last for our five game stretch, we've stayed in manageable third downs, and been at 3rd-and-4 or 3rd-and-5, and those we have enough skill people to convert those. We haven't turned the ball over, we haven't had a lot of penalties and therefore we're scoring a lot more."

(on the 15-play drive in the beginning of the third quarter)
"Well that was the difference. They came out and we didn't know how they would play us in the second half. We had our base people in there, Fletch [TE-Bryan Fletcher] and [TE] Dallas [Clark] and they came out in nickel and we had to run at their pass defenders there for a series and did a good job of it."

(on kickoff returns)
"We had a couple of errors on blocking on the returns yesterday and they have a lot of speed. They have a very good kickoff coverage unit. I think that a lot of the credit yesterday has to go to Cincinnati. In the last couple of weeks we were in situations where we were defending onside kicks and you're up and you've got a little different situation going. So it's a combination of a lot of thing, but we've got to get RB-Dominic [Rhodes] going the way he's capable of going."

(on if the team is tougher since when he arrived) 

"I don't think we're physically tougher. I think we've been in some situations where we're a little bit more mentally ready to deal with things that come along. We've been at the playoff level for awhile, so we're used to getting people's best shot, we're used to big crowds and big games and maybe we're just a little bit more mentally hardened. But they were pretty physically tough when I got here and that's just not the perception. We've got a lot of tough guys, and sometimes reality doesn't always match up with people's perception."

(on the defense giving up more yards and points than in any game this season)
"We got some of our young guys another chance to play in a big game and a good atmosphere, and I think that's going to help us down the road. We had some guys that needed to relax a little bit, and we did relax a little bit more in the second half and played better, especially on defense. You get going in an environment like that where a team's going pretty well and they have some weapons, you really have to rely on your fundamentals and what you do in practice and not get overworked when things aren't exactly going your way. That's a lesson we're still learning on defense and this is another step in that direction.

(on how their mental toughness has been improved)
"Well I think yesterday, the fact that we're rolling pretty well and then we have a little hiccup at the end of the first half. They go down and earn a field goal and then we have an interception and they get a touchdown. So we played a pretty good first half, but all of the sudden we give up 10 points right away. They get the opening drive of the second half and score, so now they've made up 17 points and the crowd's going well. There wasn't a lot of panic on the sideline. We come back with a long touchdown drive to back ahead eight points. That's the type of thing that the mental toughness shows up, when you have to have plays, you can make them. Then our defense goes out and we get a couple of fourth down stops. We get an interception and get a sack when we really needed to take some time off the clock, making those plays and not losing your poise, when the games get tight."

(on the offensive line's production)
"Well, we don't take it for granted but I think a lot of people do. They've done this ever since I've been here, we've been near the league leaders in fewest sacks, Edgerrin has been up near the league rushing leaders every year that he's been healthy and a lot of that has been from the offensive line. But because they aren't household words and because our skill position guys are very, very good, they get a lot of the notoriety. Our line has played well and we do kind of just expect that from them."

(on the Pittsburgh Steelers)
"They're a very, very tough group. They've got physically tough guys and they've been in the same situation for a long time. They're used to being in games like we're going to play this week. They're used to being in situations where you got to win and they're coached that way and they're coached very well. It's going to be a test for us. They're a team that doesn't give you anything easy and they make it very difficult on you. They do a lot of things so, especially on offense, you have to be mentally in tune to things because they give you a lot of different blitzes, different looks, different people coming and you can't be a little bit off on your details or they can make you look bad."

(on being concerned about the run defense against the Steelers)
"We'll be tested in the run defense, no question about it. We've got to make the plays that we can make. We've just got to gear in on what we do and I think we'll be ok."

(on SS-Troy Polamalu)
"He does a lot for them. He plays in the deep half, he covers, he tackles at the line of scrimmage, he's a real explosive player and they know how to utilize him. They get the most out of him and he's playing great football for them."

(on the hype of this week's game)
"It is, it's going to be huge I'm sure. Ten games are quite a few. We're playing the Steelers who were in the AFC Championship Game last year and all of the good players that they bring. But for us it's another opportunity, we're playing a division leader again, to stay ahead of Denver in that race for first position and to stay ahead of Jacksonville. It's one big game, a lot of ramifications, an AFC game, but that's what it is for us right now. I think these are much easier games to prepare for. Monday night, obviously everyone wants to play well and you've got an extra day of preparation, but when you're playing division leaders and top teams, you look at the tape and you're going to get yourself ready."

(on how well he knows Head Coach Bill Cowher)
"Pretty well, we coached together for three years in Kansas City and had a lot of fun. He's a good man and perfect for Pittsburgh. He's been great for them, and I think for him growing up there, he knew the lay of the land and what goes into being a Steeler, and he's done a tremendous job. To be in one spot as long as he has and continue to win, that says a lot."


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