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Should Tony Dungy rest his starters:

By Times staff writers
Published December 18, 2005


As he weighs the most important decision of his career, Tony Dungy has said repeatedly his only goal is to win a Super Bowl.

Forget for a moment - and only a moment - that the Colts have a chance to do something no NFL team has by going 19-0. Playing his starters in the final three regular season games gives Dungy's team the best chance at the ring and the record.

No team, perhaps none in league history, has played as well as the Colts this season. They are humming on offense, defense and special teams. They have cleared every obstacle in their path, whether the Bengals, Patriots, Steelers or Jaguars.

The only way they can mess it up is by losing their rhythm. Players who know they aren't going to play on Sunday don't practice as hard the rest of the week. Cranking up the intensity is a lot more difficult than toning it down.

Playing to avoid injury is like playing not to lose. You usually end up hurting yourself.

Thirty-nine teams have won Super Bowls. Only four have started 13-0. Dungy owes it to his players and himself to see how much further they can go.



Imagine you are an Indianapolis Colts fan, watching your 16-0 team opening the playoffs. There is Jim Sorgi, second-year quarterback from Wisconsin who has two career touchdown passes, warming up to start. And there is Peyton Manning in street clothes, his knee torn up from a blindside hit late in the final regular-season game against the Cardinals.

What price perfection? The Colts' drive toward a perfect season should not take precedence over their drive to a Super Bowl victory. With homefield locked up and three meaningless regular-season games left, coach Tony Dungy should play his key starters only long enough to keep them sharp, and healthy, for the postseason.

Sure, all of us fans would love to see the Colts going for 19-0, and if they are at full strength, it appears no one can stop them. It would be fantastic to see a deserving guy like Dungy, who has done so much for the Tampa Bay area, go down in history as matching the '72 Dolphins. But does a 16-3 record with a Super Bowl ring sound so bad?

A Super Bowl title for Dungy, even with a loss or two. Now that's what I call perfect.


[Last modified December 18, 2005, 01:02:23]


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