Tony Dungy almost pulled Peyton Manning before comeback in Tampa

Getty Images

The Colts are honoring Peyton Manning on Sunday, and Manning’s former coach is recalling one of his greatest moments as one that nearly didn’t happen.

Tony Dungy said this morning on PFT Live that when he thinks of what it was like to coach Manning, he thinks of the incredible 38-35 overtime win over the Buccaneers in 2003, a game that the Colts trailed 35-14 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. That game looked so hopeless, Dungy said, that he almost pulled Manning from the game to keep him from getting hurt.

“We’re three scores down with four and a half minutes to go and I’m saying, ‘We ought to take our first group out, cut our losses and go home.’ And Tom Moore, our offensive coordinator, said, ‘I don’t know if I’d do that.’ And about 12 minutes later we’re going in the locker room with a win, scoring 24 points in that time. That was Peyton. Ultimate competitor, a guy who could do things that you didn’t think were possible, and a guy who really wanted to win,” Dungy said.

It’s easy to see why Dungy thought it was over: Until that game, no team in NFL history had won after trailing by 21 points so late in the fourth quarter. But Peyton Manning could sometimes make the impossible possible.

55 responses to “Tony Dungy almost pulled Peyton Manning before comeback in Tampa

  1. That was a turning point for both franchises to me. Until that point, I thought Dungy would get fired after that 41-0 loss to the Jets the previous playoff year and that the Colts just would never get it together because they were looking like the same kind of 10-6 or 8-8 team they had been during Mora’s last year. Meanwhile, Tampa looked like they would get better and defend their title. The teams went in opposite directions from that point forward with the Bucs cutting Sapp and others after that year, never being that dominant of a defense again while the Colts, although it took 3 more years, finally looked like an elite team from that point on every year that you could really see competing for a championship.

  2. rodgerstonelson says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Tony Dungy..blah blah blah…One of the most overated coaches in histroy. Had the luck of having a Top 5 all time qb to carry him

    Yeah, “overrated, Blah, blah, blah”…

    Name ONE “great” coach who did NOT have either a GREAT QB or a GREAT RB or a GREAT DEFENSE who powered his teams to their victories.

    Thanks for your overly simplistic negative comment Captain Obvious

  3. 2ruefan says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:42 am

    rodgerstonelson says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Tony Dungy..blah blah blah…One of the most overated coaches in histroy. Had the luck of having a Top 5 all time qb to carry him

    Yeah, “overrated, Blah, blah, blah”…

    Name ONE “great” coach who did NOT have either a GREAT QB or a GREAT RB or a GREAT DEFENSE who powered his teams to their victories.

    Thanks for your overly simplistic negative comment Captain Obvious
    …………
    Only difference is Dungy should have had more Super Bowls with this guy but it was the coaching that held that potential dynasty back. They had Bob Sanders at safety, they had a DE BEAST in Freeny, A top 5 QB in history of the NFL. They were primed to go far many times. Any other coach would have a few more Super Bowls with that team. You know about football right. Im beating a dead drum but its the truth

  4. Better at picking his head coach and getting the other team to choke in the Super Bowl?

    —————-

    matterson20 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:00 am
    Brady’s better.

  5. They don’t win that game without extreme intervention by the ref’s Biggest BS game Ive ever been to.

  6. 6thsense10 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:09 am
    Peyton never gets a chance in that game without the defense standing up in a big way late in the fourth.
    ——–
    Good observation Captain Obvious. Any way to try to minimize anything good that 18 did right?

  7. Remember it like it was yesterday, a penalty for “leaping”, cost the Bucs that game and I’ve never seen it called since, couldn’t go to bed that night, still makes me sick to my stomach

  8. I remember that game, it was brutal to watch. Brian Kelly, Tampa’s top CB at the time went down with a season-ending pectoral injury in that game and the secondary just completely collapsed. They couldn’t cover anyone after that.

  9. People who say, “The coach is lucky because they had a good quarterback,” lack intelligence. It is a team game. Many moving parts have to come together the right way. Think, people.

  10. Great game. Also the same season he threw four INTs in the AFC championship game to the Patriots and then watched Brady win his second of what is currently 5 rings. But yeah it is hard to tell which QB is better.

  11. 2ruefan says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:42 am
    rodgerstonelson says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Tony Dungy..blah blah blah…One of the most overated coaches in histroy. Had the luck of having a Top 5 all time qb to carry him

    Yeah, “overrated, Blah, blah, blah”…

    Name ONE “great” coach who did NOT have either a GREAT QB or a GREAT RB or a GREAT DEFENSE who powered his teams to their victories.

    Thanks for your overly simplistic negative comment Captain Obvious

    32 29 Rate This

    Ummmmm JOE GIBBS?

  12. Only difference is Dungy should have had more Super Bowls with this guy but it was the coaching that held that potential dynasty back. They had Bob Sanders at safety, they had a DE BEAST in Freeny, A top 5 QB in history of the NFL. They were primed to go far many times. Any other coach would have a few more Super Bowls with that team. You know about football right. Im beating a dead drum but its the truth

    ———-

    They couldn’t stop the run and the offensive line was average at best. You can’t win a SB with a team like that.

  13. rodgerstonelson says:
    October 6, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Tony Dungy..blah blah blah…One of the most overated coaches in histroy. Had the luck of having a Top 5 all time qb to carry him.
    _____________
    I think he took the Tampa Bay Buc’s out of the dumpster with his coaching and then had his opportunity snatched from him with the team he trained and built. Oh, and that was without a Peyton Manning.

  14. Yup…and that 2003 AFCCG was the last time Brady beat Peyton in the playoffs.

    ————–

    weepingjebus says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:44 am
    Great game. Also the same season he threw four INTs in the AFC championship game to the Patriots and then watched Brady win his second of what is currently 5 rings. But yeah it is hard to tell which QB is better.

  15. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:45 am
    They couldn’t stop the run and the offensive line was average at best. You can’t win a SB with a team like that.

    —————————
    100% agree with this. That being said are you saying Patriots won’t win the SB this year? Pats oline is not good( allowing the same amount of sacks as all of last year and allowing a ton of QB hits). Your D is avg at best at stopping the run.

  16. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:45 am
    Only difference is Dungy should have had more Super Bowls with this guy but it was the coaching that held that potential dynasty back. They had Bob Sanders at safety, they had a DE BEAST in Freeny, A top 5 QB in history of the NFL. They were primed to go far many times. Any other coach would have a few more Super Bowls with that team. You know about football right. Im beating a dead drum but its the truth
    __________

    Really amazing I have to point this out to a Pats fan, but he was competing against an equally equipped conference team in the Patriots year in and year out. If the Colts or Pats had been a NFC team Manning would have had far more chances at titles. Bill had Mannings number; it was true with Dungy it was true with Caudill, it was true with Fox.

  17. I’m sure the Colts got some timely calls in those 4 minutes.. How many flags went their way?

  18. Seems as if people forget that Vanderjagt missed the initial FG but refs called that ridiculous leaping penalty giving him another try. So the comeback was fake. Big time asterisk.

  19. Tony Dungy is in the Hall of Fame and Don Coryell, Tom Flores and Jimmy Johnson are not. It defies rational explanation.
    =====

    Popularity contest.

    See Bettis, Jerome & Warner, Kurt

  20. bam5239 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:02 am
    Really amazing I have to point this out to a Pats fan.
    ____________________________________

    LMAO, you aren’t pointing it out to a Pats fan. You are pointing it out to a Miami fan pretending to be a Jets fan that masquerades as a Pats fan.

  21. 100% agree with this. That being said are you saying Patriots won’t win the SB this year? Pats oline is not good( allowing the same amount of sacks as all of last year and allowing a ton of QB hits). Your D is avg at best at stopping the run.

    ———–

    I trust Bill will correct the defense by December and Scannerchia will have the offensive line playing great too. Otherwise we won’t go far in the playoffs.

  22. Don’t forget that the Bucs had their starting DB injured and not playing in that last 4 minutes. I can’t remember if it was the entire game or just for part of it. But, Peyton Manning picked apart the replacement DB. So, it’s not so much what he did, rather than what we did with a situation that he could capitalize on. Still, good comeback – but that never happens if our starting DB is in the game and Tony Dungy and anyone who watched that game outside of Indianapolis will admit that much.

  23. I watched that game. I was thinking just like Dungy – this is over.
    But I kept sitting there… phenomenal.
    Same year Favre had his miracle/mourning game in Oakland.

  24. I trust Bill will correct the defense by December and Scannerchia will have the offensive line playing great too. Otherwise we won’t go far in the playoffs
    —————
    As a Broncos fan who’s experiencing bad oline this year and the past couple years, it’s not an easy fix. That being said we don’t have a Bill on our team. As much as I dislike Brady, I don’t like seeing players hurt. At the pace Tom Brady is getting hit , it’s only a matter of time. Your oline reminds me so much of Denvers oline the year Manning got hurt by the rams.

  25. And he would have won far less (if any) if he had Rodger’s defense or Manning’s coaches. No way does John Fox coach a team back from 28-3 and Dom Capers doesn’t get Malcolm Butler to anticipate the 1 yard line pass or hold the Greatest Show on Turf to 17 points.

    ——————————-

    matterson20 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:28 am
    Brady has 5 rings. GOAT.

  26. Imagine Peyton with Belichick. Now put Brady with Dungy, Mora and Caldwell. C’mon now…

  27. rodgerstonelson ,

    Yep, because Super Bowls are so easy to win. It’s why Peyton won 5 more with his 3 other coaches. Oh wait. It’s the simplistic mind of a fan similar to how college football fan thinks it’s their birth right to national championships every year. Brady and Belichick didn’t win one for 10 years, and it’s the greatest coach/QB combo in history, yet the last 2 they won were aided by brain farts from the other side at the end of those games. So yeah, your comment is silly.

  28. I remember that game till this day. Gruden could not run the clock out.

    More importantly Tampa-CB Brian Kelly got hurt late and Peyton toasted the replacement. If Kelly doesn’t get hurt or if Gruden could keep the D off the field for more than 27 minutes, TB would have won.

    Still PO’d over that game.

  29. I left that game early with the score 35-14, cause you know, it was Monday night and had to work the next morning…. screamed at the car radio the whole way home. Made it home as that “idiot kicker” made his 2nd attempt. Work sucked the rest of the week.

  30. I agree but they really should have gone further in the playoffs most years instead of all those one and dones. Manning played well and is unfairly blamed but the rest of the team didn’t step up.

    ————————-

    realfootballfan says:

    Yep, because Super Bowls are so easy to win. It’s why Peyton won 5 more with his 3 other coaches. Oh wait. It’s the simplistic mind of a fan similar to how college football fan thinks it’s their birth right to national championships every year. Brady and Belichick didn’t win one for 10 years, and it’s the greatest coach/QB combo in history, yet the last 2 they won were aided by brain farts from the other side at the end of those games. So yeah, your comment is silly

  31. Manning will always be known as a great regular season QB and a bad playoff QB. His teams have made the playoffs 15 times and have been bounced in the 1st game 9 times, a 60% rate.

  32. Peyton Manning won a ring despite Tony Dungy. Dungy is 1 epic choke job by the Patriots away from having no rings despite coaching one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

  33. For all those saying Manning sucked during the playoffs…He’s the only QB to win the Super Bowl with 2 different teams and the only QB to go to 4 Super Bowls with 4 different head coaches. Probably even more impressive than Brady winning another Super Bowl with the GOAT head coach and needing the other team to choke again.

  34. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I trust Bill will correct the defense by December and Scannerchia will…
    ________________________________________________

    “Scannerchia” is that why the players, fans and media all refer to him as ‘Scan?’ One of the many reasons the fake Pats fan thing falls apart on you. Even casual Pats fans know who Dante Scarnecchia is. He is almost a folk hero here and everyone refers to him as ‘Scar.’ Pats fans might misspell Scarnecchia but they would never turn it into “Scannerchia” lmao.

  35. las0023 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    For all those saying Manning sucked during the playoffs…He’s the only QB to win the Super Bowl with 2 different teams
    ——————

    He did, and he barely had any input on the first SB win, and had no part of the second SB win.

  36. But he outplayed Brady while beating the Patriots both times in route to the Super Bowl…

    ———————-

    mmack66 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 4:46 pm
    las0023 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    For all those saying Manning sucked during the playoffs…He’s the only QB to win the Super Bowl with 2 different teams
    ——————

    He did, and he barely had any input on the first SB win, and had no part of the second SB win

  37. One more thing – it really is a shame that Manning did not get the chance to play out the 2009 season and try to go undefeated. They really had a shot, but his gutless GM and coach decided to play it safe.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!