Colts head coach Tony Dungy
(On which is more important; having a plus-16 turnover margin or leading the NFL in scoring offense)"I think being plus-16. When you get to the playoffs, that's what's really going to take over for you. We were minus-one last week. That was the first time since opening day we've been minus. That's not a trend we want to continue. I think we know we can move the ball and that we have weaponry. We have to really be precise with taking care of the football and we have to things with the size of our defense. If we're not taking the ball away, then we're not going to be as effective. We always emphasize that. Even with all the yards we had last week, it was very disappointing to be minus-one after the game."
(On where he draws the line on throwing the ball with a big fourth-quarter lead)"People have asked me that the last couple of weeks. The interesting thing that people don't realize is that we have averaged six passes a game in the fourth quarter. We're throwing it very little, especially in these games where we get ahead. You still want to make first downs. That's what our offense is all about. There are going to be times where we have to throw it. We're not just going to run the ball three times and punt, in any situation. There are going to be some times where we throw the ball in the fourth quarter, if we think we can throw well, make first down and keep the clock moving. That's what we like to see in those situations."
(On how the Colts lost three games this season and their offensive production) "We played pretty well on offense all year. In the New England game we fumbled twice in the red zone and threw an interception on the six-yard line. That's basically why we lost that game. In the Jacksonville game we fumbled twice on first down. Dallas Clark didn't even get hit by anybody one time. He was just running with the ball and fumbled it. Another time they made a good hit and we had two turnovers and we lost that game. In the Kansas City game we had some breakdowns on defense and didn't do a good job stopping them on third down. We've played pretty consistent all year and in the games we haven't turned the ball over, we've done pretty well."
(On if the Colts need a close game before the postseason to know it will react in the fourth quarter) "That's a thing you kind of hate to see in these games. We've gotten off to good starts and gotten up on some people, so we haven't played typical games in the last five weeks or so. Even in the Minnesota game, we got up 14-0 right away and took them out of their running game. We know it's not always going to be like that, but we also know that if we can get a fast start and get a three-and-out in the first defensive series, if we can score offensively the first time, it does change the way the game is played."
(On if he is excited about the records his team is approaching, as a former coaching)"It excites me the way we are executing and the way our guys are playing. They are reaping the benefits of a great offseason, of working out. It's a lot of guys, not just Peyton and our skill position guys. Our offensive line, our tight ends, guys putting a lot of time into it. It would be great if Edgerrin leads the league in rushing and our receivers do some of the things they are capable of doing. I think it would be a just reward for a very, very hard year of work."
(On if he worries about the repercussions from the throwing the ball in the fourth quarter in the Colts' first meeting with the Texans this year)"People can read a lot of things into it. Nobody knows what we're doing. We are not trying to run up the score on people. I don't believe in that, personally, and we don't do that. We are trying to make first downs and we have a way of making first downs. People can read a lot of things into what you do and they really don't know what you're all about. We had a team last year that was upset at us because we announce our special teams in the introductions, rather than offense or defense. They thought we were trying to show them up. People don't really have any idea of what we're doing, so we can't worry about it."
(On the pressure his defensive front has put on the opposition this season) "We've gotten ahead and we've played a lot of zone coverage and rushed four guys. But they've gotten to tee off a lot. A lot of our sacks have been in the second half of games when we've gotten up. Our front has done a great job of getting pressure. Robert Mathis has been a big factor in that. Dwight Freeney gets a lot of chips and line sliding his way and Robert has gotten some one-on-ones. In the last couple of weeks Raheem Brock and Montae Reagor have gotten some one-on-ones and done a good job with it. That's the way it should operate. If you play efficiently early in the game, you get a lead and are basically playing pass defense in the third and fourth quarter, then that's when the sacks come. That's basically what's happened the second half of this year."
(On the likelihood of playing on the road in the playoffs and the difference between this year's team as opposed to last year's in those situations) "We have to do our job. Whether you're at home or you're on the road, you have to win. Philadelphia was home last year and they didn't win. It's not in the end-all saying that you have to have the home-field advantage. In the games that we played down the stretch, when we played good, solid run defense and we didn't turn the ball over the last 10 weeks of the year, we basically won those games. We went to Kansas City and we didn't turn the ball over and we won. We went to New England, had a great chance to win, turned the ball over four times and snapped the ball over the punter's head. When we do that, whether we're playing in the RCA Dome, a neutral field or the Super Bowl, you're probably not going to win those types of games. I think our team understands that. I don't think our team has a fear of playing on the road. We actually have a better record on the road than we do at home, since I've been here. It's really not that big of a deal for us."
(On if Jeff Fisher's strategy last week to onside kick the ball rather than face the Colts' offense is flattering and if other teams may employ that same tactic) "I thought Jeff coached a great game. I thought he did the things that were going to give him a chance to win it. They were undermanned, they had some DBs hurt, they were going to have a tough time stopping us. I think we got 500-something yards in about 25 minutes of offense and they were banged up. I don't know that we'll see that from anybody who is healthy, but you have to ready to play those types of games. For the first quarter at least, last week, we weren't."
(On if he appreciates Dan Marino's passing records given that he didn't have a premiere rusher)"They (the Dolphins) were much more of a passing team. I think we're a little more balanced. There is a lot more specialization now. There are more sophisticated defenses and designated rushers and nickel- and dime-type defenses. They played a lot of base and throwing the ball to Duper and Clayton a lot. He did a great job and he did it without a that dominant running game. I know for us, what's made us this year, has been our running game. Edgerrin is up close to the league lead and people have had to defend the run, it's really made our play action game great and that has helped our protection."
(On if he's ever seen such a discrepancy between the talent in the AFC and NFC) "It happens. It's happened before. I can remember when I was playing in Pittsburgh, we had Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver, New England, the Raiders and Miami, you felt like if you could make it through the AFC, it's going to be a struggle but you had Dallas and Minnesota on the other side. Then it reversed itself for awhile. You had Parcells and Gibbs, when they were rolling. You had San Francisco, the Bears, Washington, the Giants and the NFC was a real dogfight. They would come through and pretty much win the Super Bowl. I think it happens and it's going to happen some in this salary cap era. But it's going to balance out. In a couple of years, it could be all the NFC teams. You really can't explain it and every year is probably going to be a little different."
(On Peyton Manning possibly setting the season touchdown record in Indianapolis next week against Baltimore) "It's started up. It really started when (Peyton) got to 40 (TD passes). We have a lot of people here this week. I imagine it will just keep building. I really can't fathom what (Roger) Maris went through, what (Barry) Bonds, (Mark) McGwire and (Sammy) Sosa went through. We only play once a week. It's been mind-boggling to me the attention we've gotten in this three- or four-week period. Hopefully we can get it behind us as quick as possible."
(On never having an offensive lineman in the Pro Bowl) "Those guys are playing fantastic. I don't know what you have to do to get some recognition. They've had it before, when Edgerrin led the league in rushing twice. Hopefully he can do that again this year. We have a very, very low sack total, first or second in the league. We have quarterback throwing for all these yards. I guess our issue is that we've done it with about eight different guys. Our starting group has played but then we've had Jake Scott, Ryan Lilja, Makoa Freitas in at times, and they don't seem to miss a beat. I think that's probably the way our guys like it. They like to be anonymous but it's too bad that they haven't gotten a little more recognition. We've got four or five really good players up front."
(On if he an Tom Moore decided to take advantage of the emphasis on the chuck rule)"We felt we'd be able to run our offense. We did send in a lot of clips guys we felt were defended illegally last year. If it wasn't going to be called, then we'd make some adjustments. If it was going to be called, then we felt we'd be able to run our offense. We played early in the year and got the calls. That gave us confidence that we wouldn't have to adjust too much. It's been pretty good."
*Colts DE Dwight Freeney *
(on the success of the Colts defensive line)"The best thing about playing D-line is obviously getting the sacks. That's what you want to work toward and we've been having a great year doing that. Robert Mathis and our inside guys are up there leading the way, I think maybe even leading D-tackles, at least in the AFC. I don't know how many sacks D-tackles have out there in the AFC. So we're doing pretty well doing that, especially when you have an offense putting up points like we're doing it's a little bit better. We can pin our ears back and get after the quarterback a little bit."
(on getting better as a defensive line)"Everyday, day in and day out, we go out there working hard. We work the bags and we work on specific drills to get better at getting to the quarterback. We try to show those results in the game."
(on seeing more double teams against the Texans)"I would think so but you never know. Everybody has their own game plan. Most teams we've played this year have doubled us pretty much. But you can't double everybody, well actually you might be able to double everybody if you leave in eight guys to protect. So hopefully we'll get some guys to step up if they do happen to double me and Robert. You know, have the D-tackles go out there and have a good day."
(on why teams don't do whatever it takes to stop him and Mathis)"Every team has their identity and their scheme. If you're one of those teams who have that particular offense where you don't have a lot of backs in their routes and you don't do this, you don't do that and the tight end is not as important in your passing game you may be able to do some of those things. If the identity of your team is to get rid of the ball quick and you need all of your receivers to do that you can't let one guy destroy the whole makeup of your offense because you want to do what you do well and have confidence in those players that they can do the job."
(on worried that his team hasn't played in many close games)"We're not worried about it. We've had plenty of fourth quarter comebacks ... We've done that. We've been in close games a lot last year and we have the same (players) from last year. We've had a couple of close games this year. We want to keep on doing what we do. We're successful and winning games and we're winning by a lot of points so I'm definitely not worried about that."
(on why the Colts offensive line doesn't get much credit)"To be honest with you I think our offensive line is the best out there. I'm not just saying that because that's my teammates. We don't give up that many sacks. If you look at our sack percentage, we're always down low in the league as far as giving up sacks … It's amazing to me how we don't get that much credit as far as the offensive line especially guys like Tarik Glenn – I don't remember the last time he gave up a sack to be honest with you. Maybe it's because of Peyton (Manning). He takes so much of the pub and we've got the receivers, Marvin (Harrison) … We've got a lot of big name guys and maybe that's the reason."
(on Manning's role in limiting sack totals)"Peyton is by no means a mobile quarterback but he has a good pocket sense. He know where to step up in the pocket and where to protect himself. You have to have an offensive line to create that pocket for you and Peyton does a great job of feeling to pressure and know where the pressure is from and throwing the ball."