Dungy: "We Have Found a Resiliency"

During his Monday press conference, Tony Dungy shared his thoughts on his team as they prepare for the second half of their season, individual players such as Freddy Keiaho, Antoine Bethea and Terrence Wilkins, and even a few early comments about the Bills...

(opening comments)
I just take my hat off to our team, going into New England, a very, very tough place to play against a good ball club and winning a real emotional, energy-filled game. Looking at the tape, that's probably the good side of it. I think we played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion and did some things that really helped us win the game. It wasn't artistic and probably wasn't even fundamentally one of our better games. We did some things that we don't normally do. New England did some things they don't normally do in terms of making mistakes and penalties and turnovers. But we certainly don't count on winning games when you have a couple of turnovers, you miss field goals, you have chances to put them away in the second half. Usually, if you let those guys hang around, they're going to find a way to win the game. Fortunately, our defense came up with some takeaways that kind of offset some fundamentally bad things and some third downs where we should have been off the field. But the energy and the effort was what prevailed, and we had some guys that really had to step up and do some things. Freddy Keiaho really played the whole second half at middle linebacker after only practicing two days there. Once we knew on Thursday that Rob Morris probably wasn't going to play, Freddy practiced there Thursday and Friday and then had to play the second half and did a great job under the circumstances. Bob Sanders played the whole game without really much practice, maybe three practices in the last month, and played well once he got going. So that type of effort really made up for maybe not playing our best. Marvin, I thought, was his usual self and did some things that were just great. Offensively, we threw the ball well. They did a good job. They wanted to take away our run game and pressure us a little more than maybe we expected, and we knew we had to make some plays on the outside. Ben Utecht made some big catches in the second half for us. All in all, just a good, solid team win."

(on Marvin Harrison's catch being ‘great')
"Yes, that's one of the better ones I've seen him make. I've seen him do some phenomenal things in practice, and you kind of get used to seeing it in the game. Nothing really takes my breath away in the game because you've seen so much of it before. But to change momentum like that and to come back on an underthrown ball and to have the ability to tip it, catch it, regroup, get your feet down, think about all of those things and then do it athletically, that was a big-time play, no question. And we needed it."

(on comparing it to Harrison's catch in Tennessee in 2003)
"This one was tougher, much tougher. The one-hander, that's just a matter of getting your hand in the right place and catching it and concentrating. But this one, he had to do a lot, locate the ball, know where the sidelines are…this was a tougher catch, I thought."

(on DB-Bob Sanders' return and what he means to the defense)
"Bob gives us a lot of energy. The defense is really designed with him in mind. We have a lot of defenses where he's the free hitter, and that free hitter has to make the tackles. When he's making them and they're three-and four-yard gains instead of six-and seven-yard gains, that changes the whole complexion of the defense. But more than anything, I think it's the energy he brings us and the confidence, and he lifts everybody's play."

(on how LB-Freddy Keiaho played)
"Freddy did some physical things well. Naturally, he's not going to be in the right place all of the time, but making tackles, running around, dropping and showing his quickness, and just basically playing ball, he did a good job. If he has to play, he'll be better this week because he'll know where he's going a little bit more."

(on another 8-0 start)
"I'm really mad at Lovie Smith. I have not called him yet, but I will talk to him today, because he was supposed to keep all of that in Chicago. But it's on us now for the time being and it's a good problem to have. We're not going to get too caught up in it. I think most of our guys have gone through it before and they realize that you have to play these games one week at a time and you don't think about Week 15 or Week 16. It will be a little bit of a distraction, and hopefully we won't let it be too big of a distraction."

(on the streak last year helping this time around)
"I think so. We had all of the people come in and the different pre-game shows, the talk radio and everything, and I think our guys pretty much kept it in the building in terms of, ‘Hey, here's what we have to do, here's how we win this game,' and that's all you can really concentrate on."

(on DB-Antoine Bethea)
"Antoine's played with a lot of poise for a first-year guy. He's playing that free safety spot. We really liked his athleticism coming in and his demeanor and the fact that we thought he was going to be a ball-skills, takeaway guy. He really hasn't had as many as we thought he might have, but hopefully last night gets him jump-started. He's done a good job. He's communicated well in the secondary, he's been where he's supposed to be, he's getting better every week as a tackler, and overall, doing a very solid job for a rookie."

(on if DB-Antoine Bethea has done a good job defending the back line)
"He has, but we haven't been challenged a whole, whole lot. We're getting a lot of quick throws. I think people are trying to negate our (pass) rush. We're getting a lot of runs and quick passes and haven't had a lot of things up the field, but he's been where he's supposed to be."

(on the ‘tough stretch' and if it will help them down the road)
"Obviously, we played two good teams and they're road games. I think anytime you play tough teams and you play in tough circumstances and you have to dig down and fight to win games, that prepares you for what comes later in the season, whether it's the stretch run or hopefully the playoffs for us. That helps you improve, and I think we are improving."

(on what he tells the team returning home from two tough road games)
"Fortunately, we've had some situations that have come up recently that we'll be able to point to. Yesterday, Miami going into Chicago, for one. But that's how things are in the NFL. There are no easy games. There are no teams that you can overlook. And I think our guys know that. Fortunately for us, this tape (at New England) doesn't look as pretty to the coaches as it may have looked to the casual fan on TV. So we'll have a lot of corrections, we'll have some things that we have to get squared away, and we'll be able to coach. That's the best way to make corrections, when you're winning. We have some corrections to make. And we do have to be a little bit careful, because last year, that's one of the things we talked about with the team. Some of the slow starts we had in games were at home. We got down 17 points, 16 points, and we were able to bounce back from it. But we can't assume, ‘Okay, we're at home now and everything's going to be fine.' We have to come out and play."

(on the defense and particularly the rush defense at the mid-way point)
"I think we'll improve as the season goes on. I think Bob Sanders playing and Booger McFarland playing will help us, but there are some things we have to just do better. Guys have to know where they're supposed to be. We had some plays last night where we just didn't line up right. Freddy taking over in the second half and he's hyper, there are some things that happened in the second half that you could kind of excuse. Some things we just have to do a little bit better. We have to tackle better, and that has to come from individual players."

(on the team after 8 games, if he knows what he has)
"I like our team. We're not playing as well as we played last year, but I like where we are because I think we can make some of those improvements. And we have found a resiliency, we've found different ways to win games. When the field goal kicker has an off day, we find a way to get turnovers. When the offense is struggling, we find a way to return a punt for a touchdown. When the defense is not playing as well as we'd like, we find a way to score 34 points. So, that's a good quality to have. Now, that's not going to make up for us not playing good football, and we have to improve, but I think we can improve in a lot of ways. People, I think have forgotten in the midst of this start, that we really haven't had Brandon Stokley all year. We haven't even had our three-wide package in most of the games. We haven't had Bob Sanders most of the year. So, those two guys I think can really give us a lift and help us to play better when they come back. So, I like where we are."

(on Terrence Wilkins and his return game)
"Not only last night, but all year. Terrence has given us a lift. He's done the best job in the return game in the five years I've been here. He's given us great field position many times and sparked us in several games. The Jacksonville game obviously. People forget the big play on opening night was returning the kickoff to the 40-yard line with 20-something seconds left, where normally we would have just taken a knee. We end up throwing two passes and kicking a field goal that was big in that game. He gave us great field position when it was 14-14, he gave us a spark and got us a score before half so we go into the locker room with a lead instead of tied up. Those are huge plays. He has run hard and done a great job for us."

(on the Buffalo Bills and Anthony Thomas possibly replacing Willis McGahee after yesterday's injury)
"I know Anthony Thomas well, and he's actually run for a lot of yards against me when I was in Tampa. Their offense is running game and big plays in the passing game. Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish, they have some guys that can get up the field. Their defense is very similar to ours. They hired (Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell) from Chicago and put in the defense, so we'll know a lot about it."

(on Bills QB J.P. Losman)
"J.P. is a guy who can move around and make plays. He's been hot and cold, but he's done some good things. We saw against New England, (Buffalo) should have beaten New England on opening day. That's the message I'll try to get across to our team, that here's a team that doesn't have an above-.500 record, but here's some games they've played where they've played outstanding and they very well could be above .500."

(on how mature this Colts team is and how important is it?)
"Maturity is important because it's such a long year and you go through so many ups and downs. You have to be steady over the course of 16 weeks to have a good team. This team is one of the most mature teams that I've been around. It starts with some of the veteran leaders, but even our young guys, Joseph Addai and Antoine Bethea are really, really mature guys for rookies. Some of our young starters, Robert Mathis and guys like that just have set a great course. Then you look at Peyton (Manning), Marvin (Harrison), Jeff Saturday, Tarik (Glenn), Reggie (Wayne) and Gary Brackett. Those guys have done a tremendous job of just really emphasizing the same things that the coaching staff emphasizes, and that helps you. But we do, we're not a team that goes up and down. We're not a team that panics too much. We're not a team that really looks at past accomplishments and rests on their laurels. We are fairly mature in that way."

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