Colts coach says system doesn't work

10/16/2003 - Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Dungy thinks the NFL's replay system
needs to be reviewed, and he believes the last two weeks have
provided indisputable evidence the system does not work.

On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts lost an interception because
of a reversal, a decision that still confounds Dungy.

A week earlier, the Colts' miraculous comeback at Tampa Bay
began with what the league now describes as an illegal onside kick
-- a play Dungy believes could not even be challenged.

Dungy wants answers.

"I want to know how it can happen and how it can be
prevented," he said Wednesday. "I understand that a mistake was
made or whatever, but if we say this is the process, then how
should it be followed?"

Dungy, the easygoing, soft-spoken Colts coach, is a liaison to
the NFL's competition committee and has been an outspoken opponent
of replay since his arrival in Indianapolis last year.

The recent problems have cemented his position -- and apparently
that of the Colts, too.

"I think that it's safe to say in March, when replay comes up
to a vote, our stance will be obvious," team president Bill Polian
said during his weekly radio show. "We'll be proponents of the
doing-away with a system that simply doesn't work."

The system gives coaches two challenges per game and requires
conclusive evidence to overturn calls made on the field, something
Dungy believes did not exist Sunday.

If the call on the field is upheld, the challenging team loses a

Dungy said replay was installed primarily to rectify what he
called "gross" mistakes on critical plays, but he believes it is
not being used properly.

He cited Sunday's play as an example.

Colts defensive end Chad Bratzke intercepted a pass by
Carolina's Jake Delhomme pass, but the ball was ripped away a
Panthers player. Indianapolis' Raheem Brock fell on the loose ball,
which was ruled a fumble on the field, at the Carolina 5.

After reviewing the play, referee Larry Nemmers announced
Bratzke never had control and called it an incompletion.

Dungy acknowledges the play did not dictate the outcome in
Carolina's 23-20 overtime loss, but he was still upset three days
later because he believes the replays were inconclusive.

The Colts (5-1) have a bye this week.

"They're fortunate this only went into two markets or there
would be a furor over this," Dungy said. "Not many people have
seen it."

Dungy said he expected to get the "typical" response from the
league office after a bad call but refrained from elaborating.

Steve Alic, a league spokesman, said the NFL would not comment.

But it's not just the process that has irked Dungy; it's the
rule itself.

Dungy said he was notified by the league that Mike Vanderjagt's
pop-up onside kick -- snatched out of the air by Idrees Bashir --
against Tampa Bay was illegal. The reason: The ball did not touch
the ground, and the Colts didn't give the Buccaneers a chance to
catch the ball.

Indianapolis should have been penalized 15 yards, and Tampa Bay
retained possession. But according to the rules, the Bucs might
have had no recourse.

"We've not said anything in the rules about whether a kick hits
the ground or not," Dungy said. "Now that's as big a play as you
can have, and if the official doesn't think it hit the ground, you
can't go back and replay it."

The Colts took advantage, driving 58 yards for a touchdown and
eventually became the first team in league history to rally from 21
points behind in the final four minutes of regulation. They won
38-35 in overtime.