Dungy: One Or Two Plays Made The Difference

Coach Tony Dungy took some time to chat with the media back in Indianapolis Monday, a day after the Colts defeated the Cleveland Browns, 10-6. See what the coach had to say about injuries, the struggles of the offense, the big play by Robert Mathis, and more!

"There is something about the Browns, I guess, with us and Cleveland (Browns) Stadium in particular. It always seems to be tight games and low scoring and defense and special teams. We're definitely happy to get through that. We're looking forward to December now and getting into the stretch run. It's a good feeling to have put together a five-game winning streak and have things in our own hands in terms of making the playoffs, but we will have to play better than that. We had some mistakes and turnovers on offense that we don't normally have and some things that could be a little sharper against their running game. It was kind of an unusual game. I think they had 64 plays and 20 of them were third-down plays. That was their idea, to hang on to the ball, not try to go up field too much and really possess it, use the clock and they played that game well. We just made one or two plays that made the difference in the game and, fortunately for us, got out of there with a win. I think we are learning about what it takes to play those close games, and that's probably a good thing for us in the long run. But, we are going to need to play better in December."

On the Colts having five 4th-quarter comebacks on the road this season:

"It's a little different, a little unusual for us to play the games like that. A couple of times we've had the lead and lost it like we did in San Diego (Nov. 23), but other times we've had to just claw our way back and continue to play through the fourth quarter even when it didn't look like things were going so well. I think what it says is we have some veteran guys on offense that can move the ball when we need to and we're able to keep our poise in those situations. And, I think we have a team that is going to fight until the end no matter what."

On if close games show that one play can determine a game:

"It usually is in the NFL. I look at us and San Diego and Houston and Jacksonville, and the difference between 8-4 and 5-7 is not all that much. You have to have some guys that can make game-changing plays, but you have to know that that's the way games are going to be. You can't relax. You don't know which play it's going to be. You have to play them all out and fortunately our guys do that."

On WR-Anthony Gonzalez's lateral in Minnesota:

"Those are the obvious plays, but there are other plays, getting the third-down stops, getting a key block to keep things going. (RB) Mike Hart had a run against Baltimore (Oct. 12) on a 3rd-and-1 that should have been stopped and he ends up with great effort and just making the first down by a foot and then the next play is a touchdown pass. That's what you have to understand, that every play, no matter what it looks like on the surface, every play is critical."

On if the Colts offense not scoring was a matter of Cleveland's defense playing well or the offense playing poorly:

"It's probably a combination of both. When (Cleveland Head Coach) Romeo (Crennel) was in New England (as Defensive Coordinator), they played us like that a lot. They make you go the long route, rush three guys and try to take away the big plays. You have to be precise, you can't get penalties and you can't have negative plays. They played us like that a couple of years ago in the 13-6 game (in 2005). That seems to be the way they play us. We've had a lot of low-scoring, close games in that environment. We had a couple of chances in the red zone and didn't capitalize. Defensively, we probably didn't get the ball back as quickly as we would like, so a combination of a lot of things made it low scoring."

On why OT-Ryan Diem was called for a false start instead of Cleveland DL-Shaun Rogers being called for offsides:

"The rule is you have to move in direct response and it has to be someone adjacent, whatever that means. They ruled that Ryan didn't move right away and that Rogers got back. It depends on how you look at it, I guess."

On if LB-Freddy Keiaho was called for pass interference at the end of the game vs. Jacksonville because he ran into the intended receiver:

"Yes. There were a couple of things working there. Number one, Freddy wasn't looking at the ball. If he'd been looking at the ball, then it would have been incidental contact. He was looking at his man and unfortunately, as he ran into the receiver, then it becomes pass interference because they threw the ball to him. If they had thrown the ball to Freddy's man, who was wide open, then it would have been offensive pass interference. That's kind of the luck of the draw as two guys are running, one guy's looking at the ball and one guy isn't, and it just depends on where the quarterback throws the ball."

On C-Jamey Richard's false start:

"We have our silent snap count. Sometimes we go on one, sometimes we go on two and sometimes we go on three. They say they all have to be uniform, the head movement, and they said on that particular one Jamey's was different. It's not simulating the start of the play, but deceptive, so we'll work on that."

On if he has an update on any injuries from Sunday:

"Not really. I talked to (Associate Head Athletic Trainer/Team Services) Dave Hammer on the plane (Sunday) night, and (DT) Keyunta (Dawson) has a hamstring pull. Don't know how long that's going to be. The early guess is a couple of weeks. (LB) Gary (Brackett) had a lower leg, ankle injury. He had x-rays late (Sunday) night. I don't have the update on it, and as soon as we find out we'll let you know, but the fact that he had to go get x-rays, I'd say he's very, highly doubtful for this week (vs. Cincinnati)."

On how he will replace Dawson:

"It'll be a combination of everybody. (DT) Darrell (Reid) has played well when he's gotten in there, and fortunately we do have (DT) Dan (Muir), and he's been here and been trained and I think is very healthy right now, so we should be in good shape."

On the team's DT play at Cleveland:

"The tackles played pretty well, and it was that type of game. They were coming at us with inside runs. They held their space pretty good. We knew it was coming and how they were going to block, and it was just a matter of tightening things up in there. Even after Key(unta) got hurt, Darrell did go in there and make some plays and make things happen. (DT) Antonio (Johnson), I thought, did play well."

On if LB-Tyjuan Hagler will replace Brackett:

"We haven't really figured that out yet, but it probably will be just like we ended up with Freddy (Keiaho) at middle linebacker, Tyjuan on the weak side and more than likely get Buster Davis up and going."

On Hagler:

"He's had a tough year to go from a guy who was starting at the end of the year to injured. Then, Freddy and Clint (Session) are playing pretty well and he's not getting as much time as he would like. He came in to see me a couple of weeks ago and I said, ‘You just have to be ready because at some point you'll be in there, so make sure you're studying, make sure you're on top of things,' and he was, and he'll do fine."

On non-starters being needed:

"At some point you're going to be needed. It just happens to be now a stretch run in December and big games. (Hagler) will get at least one (start) under his belt this week."

On Hagler limping off the field:

"I think he's going to be okay. He was able to finish the game. We had guys going down there, but he came back, (DB) Matt Giordano came back, and that kind of stabilized us a little bit."

On why Keiaho came out of the game:

"Freddy actually stepped on someone's foot and just needed one play out. He was alright. Tyjuan got rolled up by one of our guys and he needed a little bit longer, but he ended up being okay. Matt got rolled up by (LB) Jordan Senn, so there was a little bit of friendly fire in all that, but they were able to finish, which helped us."

On if DB-Bob Sanders could have played at Cleveland:

"It was close. We were toying with the idea, and we just decided to give it one more week. So, I would think he has a good shot to play this week."

On when Sanders will practice:

"I actually don't know how much he'll be practicing. That's what we have to do as a staff is try to find that balance of what days to practice him on, how much practice to give him so he can get sharp and not have his knee swell up. Whether it's going to be what he did last year, which was practice on Thursday, we haven't really figured that out yet."

On how Brackett got hurt:

"It was in the pile. The pile fell on him and his leg was underneath all that and got bent backwards. It was at the end of the play."

On why TE-Dallas Clark couldn't recover QB-Peyton Manning's third-quarter fumble at the goal line:

"It's just on fourth down and in the last two minutes only the fumbling player can advance it. That was a fourth-down play, so if we recover it, it's actually dead where it was fumbled. What I still haven't gotten the exact word on is how we're six inches away and then when they get the ball it's at the one-and-a-half yard line. I haven't figured that out yet. (Referee) Terry McAulay tried to explain it to me, but it didn't make a lot of sense."

On one official signaling TD on the fumble:

"He probably shouldn't have, but in his mind, he just looked at the play and Dallas did end up recovering the ball in the end zone. Then, once they sorted it all out that it was fourth down, then it becomes a dead ball at the spot of the fumble."

On if Manning could have called a timeout before the play:

"No, because we had called timeout after the third-down play."

On DE-Robert Mathis making a big play:

"It seems like it's been someone different every week in this five-game streak, but Robert has a knack. Per play, he's probably made more big plays for us in the last five years than anyone on the team. He just plays hard every single play. We give him enough rest so he's not totally drained, but the chances he gets to go, he goes hard and generally makes something happen. He had two big rushes for sacks, and then the play to scoop the ball up and score, that was something that doesn't happen all the time. I was happy for him because he has worked hard, and if anyone deserves credit for making plays, it's Robert."

On Mathis and DE-Dwight Freeney continually making big plays in important situations:

"We have gotten them at big times from them. You can't put a price on them, and that's what those guys live for. They want to get in situations where they can rush, and we didn't have a lot of long-yardage situations against Cleveland. They did a good job keeping us out of that, staying in 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-3 so they could throw the ball quick, and we just happened to get a couple late in the game where we had a chance to rush and the quarterback had to hold the ball a little bit."

On Mathis and Freeney being able to bull rush opposing OTs:

"It's a leverage game. You see guys like Robert and Dwight and (Jacksonville RB) Maurice Jones-Drew, (Pittsburgh SS) Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, guys that hit with effectiveness. You don't have to be big. They have power and they have center of gravity and everything going for them. It's not always size."

On the possibility of DB-Keiwan Ratliff fair catching the punt at the end of the first half:

"Keiwan didn't understand me. Yes, we wanted to fair catch that ball and see if we could get a free kick. We have practiced it. Obviously, we haven't practiced it enough, but we have practiced it. We talked about it, ‘Stand at the 50 (yard line) and if it's over your head, there's nothing we can do, but if we get a chance to fair catch it, we want to.' That was my fault for not being totally clear."

On where the punt landed:

"Right at the 48, 49 (yard line), so it would have been a 58-yard kick. But, with no rush and a chance to just line it up and tee off, (K-Adam Vinatieri) might have made it."

On if that would have been an ideal situation:

"Yes. Matter of fact, before the play one of the officials said, ‘You know, I've never had one of these. It looks like we might get one.' He was looking forward to it and I said, ‘Yes, I hope so. We'll see.' We didn't quite execute it right."

On there only being three African-American head coaches in the FBS right now:

"It's a different process. I've been critical of the NCAA for a while. I think a number of people have. I don't know why it wouldn't be similar to college basketball, to NFL football, to NBA, to baseball, but the percentages just haven't been there. There have been a lot of job openings. It just doesn't seem like guys get through the interview process, minority candidates. I think colleges have to have the ability to let people go whenever they want to. That's their prerogative, but when you have 10, 12, 14 job changes a year, it just seems like there are some candidates out there that aren't getting considered. I hope in this round that some of those guys do because there are guys that can do the job. I know a couple of years ago I recommended (Pittsburgh Head Coach) Mike Tomlin to a couple of athletic directors and never got the time of day. They weren't interested in talking to Mike Tomlin until after he becomes head coach of the Steelers. Now, I'm sure they would love to talk to him. It's that kind of thing that's a little disappointing. I know at major colleges name recognition is important and that type of thing, but hopefully it goes better this round."

On WR-Reggie Wayne saying the Colts ran the no-huddle offense faster in 2004:

"We did have kind of a high-tempo no huddle and we probably have slowed the tempo down a little bit with some of the offensive lineman that we have. I think after (RB) Edgerrin (James) left and (RB) Joseph (Addai) was playing, we may have slowed the tempo down a little bit so we're not in that mode that Reggie was talking about quite as much."

On if there is a strategic reason for slowing down:

"No. I think it's just communication. In that '04 group, we had a lot of veteran guys and didn't have many new guys with us, so we were able to go a little bit faster."

On if C-Jeff Saturday is "iffy" for Sunday's game:

"Yes, I would think so. All I can go by is last time he had it was two weeks, so that's what we had planned on. Jeff will be lobbying. I saw him on his TV show (Sunday) night and it kind of sounded like he didn't answer the question, but I'd say one more week."

On the Cincinnati Bengals:

"An interesting team, in that they obviously don't have a great record. They've struggled. But, I just finished watching them against Jacksonville and Jacksonville really couldn't get anything going offensively against them. They've played some games that way, and then they've played some other games, like (Sunday vs. Baltimore) that didn't look good. Just like Cleveland, we have to plan for the best Cincinnati team, the explosive guys playing, (WR-T.J.) Houshmandzadeh and (WR) Chad Johnson and be ready for them. Defensively, they have a big blitz package. They bring a lot of people from different angles. If you can pick it up, you can have some success, but they came after Jacksonville and Jacksonville didn't handle it. We'll have to be ready for them. Not playing with anything at stake, they can throw a lot at us, and we'll have to be ready for that."

On former Oakland Head Coach Lane Kiffin being hired as the new head coach at the University of Tennessee:

"I think Lane will do a good job. Lane had outstanding success with Pete Carroll at USC. I thought he did a good job with the Raiders, and I think he'll do a good job for them."

On the rumor that Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin will join his son at Tennessee:

"I heard that. I'll believe it when I see it. It's tough when you've been a long time pro coach going back to college. I know Monte has talked about wanting to coach with Lane, but we'll see."

On if he uses margin of victory to judge the team:

"No. I look at every game how we played. We played the Browns to a 13-6 game (in 2005). I think that was in the middle of our 13-game winning streak, and they probably played us the closest of anybody in that stretch. It's not, ‘You should beat this team by X number of points,' it's how you play that particular day. We'll look at the points that we left on the field and what happened defensively, but we've gone into some tough places and gotten some close wins and those wins look pretty good right now. Beating Pittsburgh by four looks pretty good based on what they did to New England (Sunday), so no, I never look at it that way."


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