Tony Dungy Press Conference Highlights

Colts head coach Tony Dungy answered more than 20 questions from the media on Monday, covering topics that included the team's win over Carolina, the hype leading up to this week's game, the challenge presented by the Patriots, individual players and more!

General comments...

"We made it through (the Carolina) game and kind of had to weather the emotional storm we thought we would get early in the first quarter. They came out and played really well, had a good plan for us in terms of their offense. We had that long drive and then had a couple of three-and-outs on our offense. So, it was not the way we wanted to start, but I thought our team did a good job of keeping their poise. We made a few little adjustments and got going. Antoine Bethea's interception really changed the game, took it from where it could have been 10-3 or 14-3 and gave us the chance to get the lead. Once we went in at halftime, really zeroed in on what we wanted to do, and got going offensively, our second half was pretty good. But it was a tough game. It's a tough thing to do and I was proud of our guys coming through that, having those two road games in six days. They did a good job coming off of it. So, a good win. A lot of guys played well, Reggie Wayne obviously, and Joseph Addai got us going offensively. I thought our protection was good for the most part, which was again, something we said we needed to do. And defensively, we had a lot of guys step up. I thought our linebacker corps probably played their best game of the year. It was Rocky Boiman and Tyjuan Hagler really playing well against the running game. Gary Brackett had a lot of big plays for us and just showed up all over the field. It was a good win for us and kept us in front in our division, which is what we're hoping to do."

On if there was an update on injuries...

"We don't really, yet. That's one of the reasons that we did sit out a couple of guys, hoping they would get back and practice this week. We gave the players off today, so I haven't really seen anybody. We'll have our medical meeting tonight. We didn't have too many things go on in the course of the game. We'll know a little bit more tomorrow."

On if he thinks TE-Dallas Clark likes flying under the radar...

"I think most receivers would. They like to be under the radar and like to have everybody else doubled. Dallas does a pretty good job of pointing out how good Reggie (Wayne) is and how good Marvin (Harrison) is and how if he were a defensive coordinator, he would try to stop those guys. I think that's what most receivers would like to do. He's having a great year. He's been very versatile for us, helped us out in a lot of ways and made a ton of big plays."

On the Colts young secondary/defense...

"They've done a great job of just trying to do what we do, and play our defenses and hustle and hit. That's how we play, so that's all we can do, whether we're playing Carolina or whether we're playing New England. New England, obviously, has some different challenges because they have a lot of guys that can make plays. So we'll take a look at it and see what we can do to limit that. The thing our guys do is they play within our system. So far, it's been good. It's as well as we've played since I've been here in terms of limiting big plays, of tackling, of getting the ball back, creating turnovers, all of the things we want to do. It will be tougher to do against these guys. They don't give the ball up that much. We played (Tom) Brady last year and got four interceptions, which doesn't hardly ever happen, so it would be nice to repeat that. I'm sure they don't want that to happen. But that's what you have to do, you have to try to just play within your system and do what you do."

On LB-Tyjuan Hagler changing from WLB to SLB...

"He's done a great job and actually played well at two different spots. That's tough on a young guy learning this defense. Part of it has been, like Freddy's (Keiaho) injury was in practice on Thursday, so he was playing at SAM on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, we said he was playing WILL. So it wasn't like he had all the practice week, either. He's played well, and he's one of those guys that just really likes to play the game and plays at a high energy level. The times that he's been on the field, he's done really well for us."

On Carolina's first long drive...

"It really wasn't a bad drive, and we were playing pretty well defensively. The only problem we had, we forced five third downs and we didn't stop any of them. We had a 3rd-and-11 and we got a penalty that really shouldn't happen. The guy should catch the ball and we make the tackle for eight yards and they punt, but they kept the drive going there. They had a little gadget play to Steve Smith. They brought him back in the backfield. We really didn't adjust right and they got a first down there…So, it was just one of those things where they had some pretty good schemes for us. We're playing the run game pretty well and not a lot to complain about, but we just couldn't get off the field on third down. As we looked at it on the sideline, it wasn't the type of thing where, ‘Gee, we're playing poorly.' It's just that we had to be able to make a play on 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-5. And that's a tough thing against New England, too, because they have a lot of guys they can go to in those 3rd-and-medium situations. So you have to try to make some plays to get them out of that rhythm."

On WR-Reggie Wayne at Carolina and his 59-yard TD reception...

"Reggie had four or five big plays, long passes. He's done that regularly all year. That was a big play for us. We had just gotten the ball back. We were looking for a big play, and we got single coverage. I think they made some type of mistake because there was no middle safety, either. Peyton threw it, and he was able to outrun Lucas by a step. But he's done that, he's made big play after big play for us at the right time."

On holding WR-Steve Smith to two receptions and how he plans on defending Randy Moss...

"That was a big part of our focus. We knew that they had two really good running backs, guys who had made big plays in the running game, but the way that they scored and the way they won games was Smith getting big plays. We said he would catch some balls underneath and inside, but we couldn't give him a deep ball and couldn't let him have that 60-yard pass. I thought our guys did a good job. We pretty much played zone defense and we just knew where he was, and everybody was kind of sliding that way and favoring him in their zone. But nothing unusual, no different coverages or anything, just knowing where he was. These guys, again, I haven't seen them, but it's obviously a lot more difficult when you have four or five guys that you have to know where they are."

On WR-Randy Moss and if he's impressed by what Moss has done since coming to New England after many said his skills had diminished in Oakland...

"I haven't really seen Randy since he was at Minnesota. The last game we played them (in 2004) on a Monday night, and we're preparing for him, and he didn't play. But he looked dangerous and we had a lot of stuff in designed just for him. We never had to use it because he didn't play, he was out that night. Haven't played against him since, but I've played against him enough to know that he's a guy that's going to make plays when he's covered. I think Brady, from looking at the highlights, has learned what a lot of those quarterbacks in Minnesota knew, that you can throw balls to him when he is covered, and he can go up and get them. Long answer to the question, I just haven't seen him enough to know if in fact what people were saying was true. But obviously, it wasn't."


Tom Brady
Chuck Burton/AP

On the high-scoring offense of New England and how you play against them...

"I'm going to watch the film and see what it looks like. We went through that at one point in ‘04 and we were scoring a lot, then we went up there and got (three) points. I guess I know from history that you have to go out and play. They've played well every week, but every week is different."

On New England scoring on first drives and if there is anything they can do defensively scripting plays early...

"Not really because we've played them quite a few times in the past and they seem to come out with a different style, different grouping, different personnel, so you don't really know what you're going to get. And that's one of the things you have to do is kind of get through that opening salvo. Last year, we didn't do that real well. We got behind by 18 points. We were able to get going in the second half, but it's not a group that you want to fall behind for sure."

On if he thinks the personnel moves the Patriots made in the offseason were designed beat the Colts...

"I don't know. I don't ever critique anybody's team or certainly not try to coach anybody else's team. I know for us, we always look at the end of the year how we can get better and what we can do. When New England was in front of us and it seemed we were losing to them all of the time, we never really made moves to say, ‘We have to do this to catch New England.' We just tried to improve our team, and I would assume they probably did the same thing."

On how much different is the Patriots team now compared to the one he last saw in the AFC Championship Game...

"I don't really know because I haven't watched any tape on them yet. Obviously, it's different from the way they're moving the ball. They're throwing the ball a lot and throwing it to some big-play guys and getting up the field. And they're getting way ahead on people. From what I can see on the stat sheet, it's the same. They're playing outstanding special teams. They're returning well. They're covering kicks well. They're plus in the giveaway-takeaway, which they always are. So, a lot of things are the same. Just looking at the stats, it looks like they're more explosive on offense."

On having been through the media hype before and if he thinks it will help being used to it...

"I think it will probably help both teams. They have obviously been through three Super Bowl runs and been a high-profile team for the last, maybe six years now. We've had it for a couple of years and going to the Super Bowl, so I think both teams are going to handle it as well as you can. The thing we have to understand, it's a regular season game. It's a big game. Driving in today, I heard it's the first time that it's happened in NFL history, to have undefeated teams this late, and two high-profile teams. But it's still a regular-season game. What it will prove is who's the best team on November 4. But we've been through that where that doesn't guarantee you anything. We beat those guys a couple of years ago on a Monday night up there. People wanted to give us the title and we didn't win it. San Diego, I heard how they were the most talented team last year and they won some big games, and they didn't win it. It's going to be fun, I think it's going to be good for the league, I think it's going to be good for football, and you're going to see two very good teams playing, but it's a regular season game."

On if he will be ready for this week to be over soon...

"It will be fun, really, and I think that's why you're in the league, for games like this. You have to enjoy it, and I hope our players do enjoy the week and stay focused on the task at hand, but understand that it is a big game and it should be fun. The one thing I want our players to understand, though, is that it is not the end of the season, it is not a game that puts you in the playoffs, it's not a game that gives you anything if you win it. It's just a big, regular-season game. Hopefully we can balance that fine line of enjoying all of the build-up, but knowing that it's just November 4."

On how it factors in that the two teams have faced so many times with high stakes...

"I think it's going to be more media-driven than anything else. Everybody's going to say that home-field advantage in the playoffs is at stake—and it may be. If it was Week 14, you would know that for sure, but there's no guarantee. It will be fun and it will be two good teams that know each other very well, and nothing more than that, really."

On what happened to parity in the NFL and how these two teams have been able to stay on top...

"Speaking from our standpoint, we wouldn't say that, necessarily. We've been at the top with good regular-season records. We've won one time. We've lost some tight games, some close games to New England more so than anybody, but we lost to Pittsburgh one year, we lost to the Jets one year that I was here. So what I think our team has been able to do is play more to our level, week in and week out, and of the 70-something weeks that I've been here, play close to our potential. And I think New England does that a lot. They play very few bad games. That's probably the difference."

On if there is such thing as playing a ‘perfect game'...

"I don't think you ever play a perfect game, but sometimes you come out of it and you say, ‘We played as well as we can play.' And that's what you're looking for. We've been close to that a lot. You're always looking at the fundamental things and the little details. Defensively (at Carolina), I thought we played well other than the five third downs on the first drive. I thought we got done a lot of things that we wanted to. Offensively, we had some misses in the passing game. We dropped a couple of balls, fumbled the ball to lose that momentum. So those are the things that really bother you as a coach, and as a team. You want to not beat yourself, and if you don't do that, you have a chance to win a lot of games."

On if he is surprised that, as defending Super Bowl champions, they are underdogs at home this week...

"No, not really, because the point spreads are really public opinion. That's one thing I do understand is that they're trying to get an even number of bets on both sides. So, they have to respond to public opinion, not to any reality or anything. A lot of people obviously think New England is going to win. They probably have watched the Patriots more than I have, so the public probably has a pretty good idea of things. That's one thing, we've been 10, 11, 13-point favorites sometimes, and you say, ‘How could this happen?' It's just to get the betting right, so it's not something that we worry about that much."


Bob Sanders
Mark Humphrey/AP

On if this ‘rivalry' compares to anything he has been a part of or seen...

"I think it's probably similar to when I was in Pittsburgh when we played the Raiders. We weren't in their division, but you knew at some point you're probably going to have to play them to advance. They had a lot of the same guys there year after year after year, and you got used to playing against them. I think you had a lot of respect for them and what they could do, and it became fun because of that. I think it's been the same thing, that a lot of the same core guys have been there. Both teams know you're probably going to see each other at some point in meaningful games, and I think it's been good."

On if keeping the same team and having that same type of matchup is more difficult to maintain in the salary cap era...

"It probably is. Again, before the salary cap, you pretty much knew you were going to have the same guys for years and you were going to play against them and it was going to be the same coaching staffs and the same system. That's not always the case now, and I think both teams have done a good job of keeping their core guys there, but rebuilding, building and bringing in different guys. So now it is Wes Welker and Randy Moss to go along with Kevin Faulk and Tom Brady and the guys that have been there. It's Adalius Thomas along with Asante Samuel and (Mike) Vrabel and (Tedy) Bruschi. We've done the same thing. I think we've kept guys, but we're getting contributions from different guys as well. And that's probably what it takes to keep it going."

On if it was fitting that they beat New England to get to the Super Bowl...

"We pretty much felt we were going to have to. I don't know why, but when we won at Baltimore, I just had a feeling New England was going to win. If we were going to get to the Super Bowl, it seemed like we were going to have to beat them, and that's the way it worked out. They're a good team, and we've had a lot of good games against them in the past. I think this will be another one."

On if the Colts had been stopped on third down in the AFC Championship Game, what would they have done...

"That was interesting. When we talked about it, we said we could run it there. They had taken a timeout. Peyton asked me, ‘What are we going to do?' And I said, ‘Don't make me make that choice.' I probably would have looked at it to see how far away it was, but that's one, that's kind of a no-win situation. If it's 4th and a foot and you go for it and don't make it, you'd lose a chance to go to the Super Bowl. In hindsight, I probably say I would have gone for it, but probably the conservative, defensive coach in me would have tied the game up and tried to win it in overtime."

On if he thinks it helps the Colts they have beaten New England three straight times...

"I don't think it really matters. To be honest, when we were losing, I don't think we ever felt like we couldn't beat those guys. We had beaten them a couple of times and they came in here, they obviously didn't think they were going to lose when they came in for the (AFC) Championship Game. It was 21-3 and they're playing well. I think that part of it and how you're going to respond and all of that, I think both of these teams just will go out there and play and know that whoever plays best on Sunday will win."

On if the Colts are taking any measures this week to ensure any signals used in the past will not be used against them in this game...

"We do that all of the time. Everybody we play, we do that, so I don't think it's really an issue. You're always concerned about changing things up, so nothing different than we always do."

On if he has ever thought someone was stealing signals and what you do to prevent that...

"There are a lot of things that go on. I've never thought about video-taping anything, but there are a lot of things that go on. You take precautions all of the time in a lot of things that you do, certainly not just for them, for everybody you play. I don't think there's anything we ever thought about or worried about. But I never thought we lost a game to them because they were video-taping anything."

On playing reserves at the end of games and is it difficult to know when to put them in, referring to Washington at New England...

"Every week is a little different, and sometimes you have different things you want to accomplish. I know when we've gotten Jim Sorgi in at times, you want to let him get a chance to do some things and throw with the first group. And we've thrown a lot of balls late in games when we've had big leads. Other times, you're working on different things. I think only that coach knows what you're trying to accomplish, and basically in the NFL, you don't try to coach other people's teams. How they play, that's up to them. I've never been one to get offended by whatever anybody else does. You don't know what they're trying to work on."


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