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Different paths to success (cont.)

Posted: Thursday November 1, 2007 4:25PM; Updated: Thursday November 1, 2007 4:25PM
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Dungy seems to live with the volume turned down, his expression unchanged, his faith unmoved regardless of the down and distance. Before Dungy led the Colts to last season's Super Bowl title, the whispers (and his former kicker Mike Vanderjagt) said that he was too nice to inspire a team to a championship, too calm to lead in a sport built on machismo.

Dungy is more Joe Torre than Bob Knight, more poker face than pounding fists. He has taken nine of his previous 11 teams to the playoffs, starting with Tampa Bay. Instead of dealing with a post-Super Bowl hangover, the Colts are one of the two best teams in football.

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"Everybody has a different perception of what iron-fisted means," Dungy said during a conference call this week when asked about his demeanor. "I think you want to be disciplined and you want to have a team that doesn't beat themselves and doesn't have penalties and mistakes, that's disciplined on and off the field. There are a lot of ways to get that."

Whichever method you subscribe to, Belichick, 55, and Dungy, 52, have proven to be peerless in the last decade. They are as much a part of the fabric of their teams as any player on the roster.

While viewers Sunday will be watching the aerial battle between Brady and Peyton Manning, and the artistry of Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison, the chess match between Dungy and Belichick will have already started.

Every speed rush by Dwight Freeney or run support tackle by Bob Sanders will have the fingerprint of Dungy. Every Mike Vrabel blitz or tipped pass by Rosevelt Colvin will have been greenlighted by Belichick.

"I've known Tony for a long time," Belichick said this week in a press conference. "I have a lot of respect for Tony. We're both defensive coaches and we're both kind of the same age. We've been around it for a long time."

On Sunday, they will each bill three more hours, two coaches seen in shades of darkness and light, each one reaching for the same goal.

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