INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tony Dungy tried to do things his normal way
But when Mike Doss handed him the ball with 13 seconds left,
even the Indianapolis Colts' coach couldn't resist the temptation
to respond. In a rare emotional outburst, he grabbed the ball,
raised it in his right hand and pumped it toward the crowd, which
roared in approval.
Who could blame him?
Five days after burying his oldest son, 18-year-old James, Dungy
watched Jim Sorgi throw two touchdown passes and got the goal line
stand he needed -- thanks to a replay reversal -- in the final
seconds to give the Colts a 17-13 victory over Arizona.
"I know those guys wanted to win the game for me and wanted to
do it for a lot of reasons," Dungy said. "But I think they wanted
to win it for me, and they came up with the effort to do it. It was
Indianapolis (14-2) set a franchise record for victories and avoided its
first three-game losing streak since midway through the 2002
The statistics, however, paled in comparison to Dungy's perseverance
during a time football understandably became secondary.
After a tortuous 10 days in which he learned his son died of an
apparent suicide and then gave a moving eulogy at Tuesday's
funeral, Dungy made a surprise return to practice Thursday.
On Sunday, many of the fans showed up for an otherwise
meaningless game -- Indy had already clinched the AFC's top seed and
Arizona (5-11) was already eliminated from the playoffs -- to
show their support for Dungy.
Before the game, the Colts had a moment of silence in honor of
James Dungy, who was found unresponsive Dec. 22 in his Tampa, Fla.-area
apartment. The Colts coach spent pregame warmups shaking hands and
walking around the field with his other teenage son, Eric, who
retrieved kicking tees during the game.
When Dungy walked onto the field, he received a standing ovation
and waved to the crowd. For much of the game, he was his usual self
-- hands folded, pacing stoically along the sideline.
And then, with a little help from official Ron Winter, the Colts
found a way to give Dungy a brief respite by stopping the Cardinals
three times from the Colts' 2 in the game's final two minutes.
"It made me feel good because we really try and play hard for
coach Dungy, everyone loves him," said defensive tackle Larry Tripplett, who forced the fumble before McCown scored.
Again for the Colts, the game had a preseason feel.
Three Pro Bowl players -- running back Edgerrin James, linebacker
Cato June and safety Bob Sanders -- were deactivated. Two-time MVP
Peyton Manning played one series and receivers Marvin Harrison and
Reggie Wayne were in for only two. Dwight Freeney played sparingly,
and nearly half of Indy's starting defense sat out the entire game.
Yet Arizona's regulars couldn't even muster enough offense to
beat the Colts' backups.
Josh McCown, possibly in his final game as a Cardinal, completed
31 of 42 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown. But he couldn't
get in on fourth-and-goal from the Indianapolis 1 in the final minute.
Officials ruled it a touchdown, then reversed the call, changing it
to a fumble that backup linebacker Rob Morris recovered to seal the
Arizona coach Dennis Green, a longtime friend of Dungy's, said
the reversal was the right call and even McCown seemed content with
it given the circumstances.
"I thought I pushed in and I crossed," McCown said. "I
thought where the ball was, in my arm, it was very minute. After
all the Dungys and all the people in the Colts organization have
gone through, it's not something I'm very bitter about at all."
Anquan Boldin caught eight passes and Larry Fitzgerald six to
each top 100 receptions and become the first duo of 100-reception
receivers on the same team since Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey on the
2000 Denver Broncos. The 1995 Detroit Lions are the only other team
to achieve that feat, with Herman Moore and Brett Perriman.
Still, the Cardinals came up short.
Sorgi threw a 14-yard TD pass to Ben Utecht in the first
quarter, an 18-yard TD to Troy Walters in the third quarter, and
Mike Vanderjagt connected on a 44-yard field goal. Sorgi was
21-of-31 for 207 yards.
All the Cardinals could manage were Rackers' two field goals,
McCown's 25-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald and some heartfelt
empathy for Dungy.
"Everybody feels the support for Tony Dungy is clear-cut. It's
clear-cut in Indianapolis, it's clear-cut throughout the National
Football League," Green said. "He's a very optimistic, a very
faith-based man in how he goes about living his life."
Vanderjagt's five points gave him 995 in his career.
... Despite playing one series, Manning gets credit for the victory
and has now beaten every NFL team except Carolina. ... Boldin and
Fitzgerald also topped 1,400 yards. ... The Cardinals set a
franchise record with 4,450 yards passing this season.