Thank you very much. I, like Peyton, am operating on zero sleep as well. We had a great party last night, and just to be around our families and supporters and staff, it was just awesome to be able to share that moment with them.
We went quite a long time and got ready to come down here. But it's been a wonderful ride this last month. We've got a tremendous team, and I don't say that because we won the game and I don't say that because we've got a lot of great players, but we've got a group that is very, very unselfish, very, very much a group that cares about each other and plays together no matter what the situation.
Someone said earlier, I think quoting me from last night, [this was] not our most talented team, but one where everybody pulled together, everybody followed the lead of the veteran players, and the young guys really did what it took to win. We kind of have a saying that the next man up has to be ready to go, and that was exemplified last night. Marlin Jackson gets hurt after Nick Harper gets hurt and Matt Giordano and Kelvin (Hayden) come in. Another offensive lineman plays the whole last three quarters, basically, and we don't miss a beat there.
That's the way it's been for us. And that's what is so neat about this team. We've always had the great Pro Bowl players, and Peyton mentioned the five guys that are going. But what we had this year was young guys ready to go when we needed them. And some of that was a growing process. And that's what happened to us in the middle of the year. Some of those guys had to play and learn. We grew from it.
But I really think that was the Lord preparing us to go into that playoff stretch. And when we got into the playoffs those guys were ready and it was a lot of fun riding with them. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed this whole week, two weeks leading up to it. And I encouraged the team to do it and I thought they did.
We set our schedule up so we pretty much had the mornings off, we did our press obligations, and then we started our practice day at noon. And we met and practiced basically from noon to six. And then we head off from six until one on most nights. And the guys embraced that and they worked when it was time to work and when it was time to enjoy South Florida they did that. And I thought we were ready to go. I was very confident that we'd play well. And it was a tremendous game from our standpoint.
The Bears, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, but it was a lot of fun seeing us really come through and do what we had to to win this game and go back to Indianapolis and share that with our family and friends back there. It's been a great 24 hours and again we're looking forward to the rest of this day and finishing up with our folks back in Indy.
(on his defensive game plan and if that's what stunted the Bears'
What we wanted to do was not let Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson get going. We wanted to put them in situations where they were going to have to throw the ball to beat us. And we did a pretty good job of that in the first half and we forced them into passing situations to convert on third down. We did a good job there. I thought Ron Meeks really mixed the coverages on third down and we were able to get off the field and not let them sustain the ball. That gave our offense a lot of plays. Basically we wanted to play more eight-man front than we did, and really force them to throw and it paid off for us.
(on his plans for the future and how he's guarded against the Colts
becoming a team that can't reload for next year)
I guess I'll answer the last one first. It's difficult to repeat in this league. It's so competitive that any little slippage is not going to allow you to get back to the top. And what New England did, we have a lot of respect for. We know how tough it is to get here, but to get here and continually be there takes something special. But I think we have special guys. We're going go to talk about the challenge of repeating and what it's going to take; that we're going to have to play better. Peyton talked about it. We can't come in and think that we can just do what we did this year. We've got to improve if we want to stay where we are.
We will be the hunted next year, and we understand that. It will be a challenge and a challenge I look forward to helping the guys through. Every year probably, probably in the last three or four years, I've kind of evaluated where I am at the end of the year. I still have a lot of passion for the game, a lot of enthusiasm. After a night like last night, how can you not love it? So I'm not burned out. I'm not tired at all. I'm very, very fired up and looking forward to coming back. But I'll evaluate it and we'll see where we go. But generally after a couple of days you feel like everything is rolling and I do look forward to helping these guys defend this title.
(on how he'll handle his personal accomplishment and how people will view
A guy asked me that question last night, how did I think of myself compared to Jackie Robinson and it really kind of floored me. But when I stopped to think about the magnitude of the moment and Super Bowls and how difficult it is and the fact that being the first African-American (to win a Super Bowl), it was a valid question. I certainly don't think I've done anything as difficult as Jackie Robinson did or anything that would even be in that light. But it's a very, very proud moment. And as I said last night, I really feel there were so many guys that could have done this, if given the opportunity. And I had some guys that mentored me and taught me when I came into the league in 1981. And I know that, had they gotten a chance to lead a team, they could have done this.
So I feel honored to be the first one to carry that mantle forward and I feel like we're going through a process that is going to change the way NFL football is looked at and especially with young kids. I know when I was young watching Super Bowls I thought about being a player in the game and how great that would be. I never really thought of being a coach in the Super Bowl, it just didn't seem realistic. And I think it will seem realistic to young kids, young African-American boys today and that's great.
|Colts RB Dominic Rhodes hugs head coach Tony Dungy after the game (Getty Images/Donald Miralle)|
"It was big. And really after they got that momentum with the kickoff return, we couldn't really afford another lapse. And that's what has happened. In some way or another, everybody stepped up when we needed them. We needed the defense last night at that point, and they came through. They felt good about where we were. We had one play, the 52 yard run that got out. But other than that they really didn't move the ball against us. We had a good deal of confidence going and I think the defense realized, too, with the weather conditions, we had to help jump start the offense.
Bob Sanders makes a great play and causes a fumble. We get off the field on third down and force them into punts. That was huge to get us back in the game. Once we got back even we felt pretty good about it. But that defensive play from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the second quarter was huge.
(on when the team will get back to work and start focusing on free agents
like Dwight Freeney, Cato June, Dominic Rhodes)
That's one of the problems that the defending champs have. It's a shorter offseason. We've got to give the coaches some time off. They've done a good job, they've gone a long time without breaks. We'll take this week and most of next week off. Bill Polian does a tremendous job of mapping things out. That's one of the things that's a benefit to the way we do things.
I don't have to look in the crystal ball on all of those things. I don't have to stay up on everything, where someone is the head coach and GM might. Bill has a lot of those things under control, and we have planned for some of those things. But as far as really evaluating our players, making those decisions, who we need to re-sign before free agency, starting up on the draft, those are things that catch up on you when your offseason is cut down, we're going to have to work smarter because we won't be able to work as long as some teams. That's a big part of it and we'll get started on that probably in about ten days.
(on how satisfying the postseason was playing physical against the Ravens,
coming back against the Patriots; and playing in inclement conditions in the
It was very satisfying, because we've been labeled a lot of things. And we've been labeled a team that could do well in the regular season, but couldn't finish it in the playoffs. We've been labeled a finesse team, a passing offense. We've been labeled a soft defense. We've been labeled a dome team. And I would point out -- I talk about perception and reality a lot to the players, and point out where we are in reality that people really don't understand. We have as good a record on the road as at home. We've run the ball as well as anybody in the league for the last seven or eight years.
So a lot of those things we don't have to dissect and discuss, but I think it's great for the country to see that we could win a lot of different ways. And we won low-scoring, field goal games, we've won defensive games, we've run with run defense. We won when we had to score 30 points in the second half against a great defense that New England has. But to be able to do it -- and I told the players after the game -- it was the Bears type of environment. They're a team that's known for running the ball and playing defense. And last night was a night when you had to do that with the weather conditions. We outplayed them at their game and I just think that shows what type of team we have, one that's very, very flexible, and one that can do a lot more than people think.
(on what advice he's given to Peyton Manning about enjoying his
accomplishment before focusing on the upcoming season)
Peyton is a guy that always looks forward and he is always looking at the next challenge, and I think that's what makes him great. I said it last night and I'll say it again, personal vindication or validation, whatever you want to say, I think it's great that people view it that way, but Peyton Manning is the best leader, the best locker room guy, the best prepared player that I've ever been around. He's a great player and anybody who felt like he needed to have a Super Bowl win to know that, it just didn't make a lot of sense to me.
But this was about our team. This was about our organization. And I told all the players, including Peyton, that we've got to savor this moment and enjoy it. And he kind of made a joke, I usually give him 24 hours to enjoy wins and move on. We are going to take a little more time than that and really enjoy the moment. I think it's great they're going over to the Pro Bowl and be able to enjoy it with four of his teammates. But that's what you have to do. And March 1 will come soon enough, and that's when we've got to kick it in gear and get ready for the 2007 season. I hope he does really just enjoy the journey that we just went through and look back and reflect on it for a couple of weeks, but knowing him he won't. He'll come back from the Pro Bowl and come into my office with his notebooks of the seven things he wants to do a little better next year.
(on what it was like to get a phone call from the President)
We were actually riding in the car. I'd gotten this call two days ago from the White House switchboard, saying, "We want to verify this cell number. Does this belong to Tony Dungy?" I figured there was only one reason the White House was trying to figure out where I was and what my phone number was. So we were riding in the car coming and I knew that call may be coming at some point today. So it wasn't a total surprise to me. I tried to pull one on Peyton and surprise him. But that was a neat moment. I've met the President on a couple of occasions and was just really gratified that he would take the time to do that.
The whole day for me yesterday was really special and I enjoyed every part of it from the warmups to the postgame. But for me, I guess, as the clock was ticking down and it was clear with under a minute to go that we were going to win, I really just thought about our team and the way it was put together. And I just kind of said a little prayer and thanked the Lord for giving me all these 53 guys and those coaches and putting us together the way he had. It's a very, very special group and a group that is unbelievably close. And I just thought about that.
I thought about July 27th when we started and the work that these guys had done and the hills that they climbed to get there. And it was just a great feeling to know that we had come through all those hills and valleys and persevered to get to our goal. It's not very often that you set that goal of winning the last game and you're able to do it. And those last 15 seconds or so it was very, very special.