News From Terre Haute, Indiana

CNHI News Service Originals

January 16, 2007

Dungy already knows approach to take during practice

INDIANAPOLIS — Savor the moment and take advantage of the opportunity.

That’s just a little bit of the advice Tony Dungy is expected to give his National Football League team this week as the 14-4 Indianapolis Colts head into Sunday’s AFC championship game with the New England Patriots. New England qualified for the rematch with the Colts with a 24-21 come-from-behind win against top-seeded San Diego on Sunday.

While Dungy has given Indianapolis players some much needed time off after Saturday’s 15-6 AFC divisional win against Baltimore (no meetings or practice are scheduled until Wednesday), he already knows the approach he wants to take when the Colts begin their preparations for the 14-4 Patriots.

“I probably feel more excited [about looking ahead to the title game] than the players because I do know. I’ve coached 26 years and really only had three or four times to be in this position. It’s not guaranteed,” he said Sunday.

“You are not going to get there every year. You feel like you really need to take advantage of it and I do realize how hard it is to get here. A lot of things have to fall right for you.”

“I think our coaches are very fired up. I am personally and looking forward to this week of practice.”

Many of the Colts have been in this position before, playing New England in the 2003 AFC championship game. This time, however, the two teams will face off in the RCA Dome, where the Patriots haven’t played since a November 30, 2003, meeting that New England won 38-34.

Still, there are enough younger players on the Indianapolis roster this season that Dungy is quite aware that playing at a high level and keeping mistakes to a minimum will be crucial.

“It is tough, but that’s who is going to get the job done. If you can do the things you normally do, can function well, handle kickoffs, protect your punter, and all the mundane things when the stakes are really high, that’s what it takes,” he said.

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