Tony Dungy Press Conference

Colts head coach Tony Dungy talks to the media following the Colts' AFC Championship victory. Dungy discusses Lovie Smith, Asante Samuel's interception, the run defense and more...

Tony Dungy: Well, obviously there's a lot of emotion in that locker room. I could not be more proud of our guys. We had to do it the hard way. We had to go through a great champion, and we got down 18 points to them and that's not easy, but at halftime I just felt an energy in our locker room. Even though we had to settle for the field goal there at the end of the half, we talked about just being two scores down and we said, we can get a good kickoff return and score, then we're one score down. With everything that happened, we're within one score of them, and, if we do that, then we can make it a 60-minute game.

When that happened, I think our whole side line just lit up, and we made it a game from there on out. It certainly wasn't perfect. We had some glitches in our kickoff coverage. We had some glitches on defense, but that's going happen against them. They're a tremendous team I was so proud of the way our guys fought. I was really happy for Peyton. You know, he was very, very calm. He had to bring us from behind three, four times. Great drive at the end and it's just fitting.

Our team went the hard way the whole year, but they hung tough, and I'm so proud of them. I'm excited for our whole city, our organization, taking our team to the Super Bowl. Couldn't ask for a better way to end this part of our year.

Q: Tony, before the go ahead touchdown, then were you like 35 on the other side of the field, is that like you couldn't watch it or -- did you think?
TD: That's where I always watch from. I watch from the other end. I just try to stay out of the way of the coaches and the players and let them do their work. We felt we had a good play. I wanted to see it, you know, right from that end zone angle, and when Joseph took it in, it was a great feeling.

Q: To get touchdowns from Klecko and Saturday.
TD: I'll tell you what. It was one of those games. They got the first ball that comes loose and they fall on it. They get one right on the edge of the goal line, we don't think it's a touchdown. We get a great catch from Marvin on the two-point conversion. There was just a lot of things that happened around the end zone. It was just one of those games where you're going to have to fight, and I think the Lord just set you up. He's been testing us all year. We've had to hang in there and hang together and keep the faith, and this was a big test today.

But we did it, and we did get two unlikely touchdowns there to help us.

Q: Tony, in all your conversations with Lovie through the years, did you ever anticipate you'd have a chance to play him in a Super Bowl?
TD: You know, you always talk about it. When he took the job in Chicago, I said, "I'm happy you're going to the NFC and maybe we can play against each other." And then when we had dinner three weeks ago, he and I, and we were still in it. We talked about that, maybe two us will face off against each other. So you hope it happens but realistically, particularly it's hard to dream of that and it's going to be great going against them. They're a tremendous team. You could see the way they played today.

Q. Tony, after the Samuel interception, did you sense even a second of "Here we go again" from your side line?
TD: Not really. Not really. We went up and talked, Saturday got up last night. I usually talk at the team meeting, and Jeff got up and wanted to finish the meeting after I did, and he said, "This is our time. We got to make it happen."

All I did at that point was go up and down the sideline and tell the guys, "It's still our time. We got plenty of time left." We were in this situation the last time we played these guys here. They got way up on us, and we had the ball at the end to win the game. I think we were down 21 in that game. I told the guys at halftime, "We're going to have the ball with a chance to win in the fourth quarter. This time we're going make it happen."

Our guys just fought. Nobody ever got to the point. They just wanted to fight. Even if we didn't win it, they wanted to fight all the way, and that's what this team is all about.

Q: Tony, aside from what it means to you, what does it mean to the country to coaching the Super Bowl?
TD: You know what? I think I want to concentrate on this team, the Colts, our city tonight. I'll answer all our questions. I'm very, very proud as an African-American. It's going to be special, but I want to really just let us savor this and make this about the Colts and our organization tonight.

Q: Tony, you used the term "poetic justice" some this week. How does Peyton getting the 80-yard drive with two minutes left to go fit into that description?
TD: You know, Tom Brady is a great quarterback. Peyton is a great quarterback. Peyton has brought us back a lot of times. We haven't had this opportunity and had a chance to do it on this stage before. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that we were going to take that football and score. Once our defense stopped them, I think we all felt good that Peyton was going to drive us, and I just think it's great for him to get to the Super Bowl with a drive like that. I don't know if that -- it probably won't shut anybody up until we win one, (it will) still be, "Well, can you win the Super Bowl?" Peyton Manning is a great player. Anybody who doesn't know that doesn't know much about football.

Q: How good was Dallas Clark tonight?
TD: Dallas was huge. They were going to do some takeaway on our outside receivers. We thought the running backs and tightends in the middle of the field would have a good chance for a good game. We put Reggie Wayne in there some. He made a couple good catches in the slot. We did that when Brandon Stokley was out. Ricky Proehl is not quite healthy yet. Other guys had to move. Dallas did a good job.

Q: Any emotions when Brady has got the ball?
TD: We knew it was going to come to that. We can't play against mystique. We can't play against the pass. If he has the ball, we got to get pressure on him, make him move his feet. They didn't have a lot of time. That was one thing going to a minute, going 80 yards. The key thing, Adam Vinatieri was going to squib the ball. Adam said he would kick it five yards in the end zone, and we covered it. We kicked it deep, and they had to go a long ways. That's a tough situation for any quarterback to have to go that far with a minute.

Q: Tony, personally, how personally validating is this for you?
TD: I don't know that it's personally validating. It's just, I can't say how proud I am of our group. I came here five years ago and this was our goal, this is what Jim Irsay and I talked about, this is what he wanted to do, to bring a championship to Indianapolis and for me to be part of it with the group that we have. It's special.

I think the Lord really tested us a lot from last year from getting that 13-0 start and losing, our playoff game here, and then the amount of guys that we had hurt. And in some strange ways, Corey Simon getting sick, Montae Reagor with the car accident, Brandon Stokley pulling his Achilles without even getting touched. We had so many of those kinds of things that it would have caused most team to think maybe this isn't our year.

But we didn't have anybody like that, and we held the faith. We kept believing in each other. Our offense never lost faith in our defense. First two games, the defense kind of carried us in the playoffs. Today our offense puts up 38 points on a team that hadn't given up points all year. That's just how we played, and I'm proud to be part of that, be part of a group that just is never going to say die.

Q: Defensively, Tony, how do you think you played tonight?
TD: We played okay. They've got a good offense and they do a lot of things. We put our defense in bad shape field position-wise, an interception for a touchdown, 7 points, a long kick you have return, a punt that we punted and got a penalty, so they started in our end quite a few times, but we got a couple of big stops when we needed it, and we got the big interception at the end.

So, all in all, I'd say it was a passing grade.

Q: Three consecutive games the playoff where you've given up under a hundred yards rushing without doing that all regular season.
TD: I was never panicked about our run defense. When we have all our tacklers out there, and we play fast and play hard, we did fine. We just weren't consistent in the playoffs. We've been a little bit better. We're going to be tested when we play Chicago because those two backs can pound it.

Q: Tony, when -- did Lovie come down three weeks ago, did it surprise you, or how did that happen?
TD: He called me, asked for a ticket. He said he wanted to come down. They had an off week. He wanted to see Herm and I play, so it worked out great. Wives ended up getting the dinner organized, and we had a chance to visit for about two hours and talk about, you know, how we really got started in '96 in Tampa and some things don't change, the philosophy he and Herm and I believe in. That's the exciting thing for me.

I'm so happy that Lovie got there because he does things the right way. He's going to get there with a lot of class, no profanity, no intimidation, but just helping his guys play the best that they can. That's the way I try to do it, and I think it's great that we're able to show the world not only that African-American coaches can do it, but Christian coaches can do it in a way that, you know, we can still win.
So I'm excited about that as well.


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