Bengals join foes in believing in themselvesBy Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service
CINCINNATI — Starting defensive tackle Domata Peko was among those rejoicing in the Bengals locker room after Sunday’s 31-13 victory over the New York Giants.
Cincinnati’s four-game losing streak finally came to a screeching halt with the dismantling of the defending champs. The team played with rare energy and credit must be given to head coach Marvin Lewis for the message he posted during a team meeting that provided the spark. It began with these five words… Others believe, now Bengals must.
“That was a big key for this week,” Peko said of the posting. “What coach was trying to impress upon us is that other teams are believing in us, but we have to believe in ourselves. This whole week we tried to practice and play with confidence. When you believe in yourself, you can do great things and fans saw that against the Giants. I think we were clicking on all cylinders - offense, defense and special teams.”
As the story goes, Lewis read an article that contained a quote by Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who they faced a week prior, and shared it with the players. The Bengal lost that game 31-23 but Dumervil was very complementary and forthcoming with his views of the team as a unit.
Here’s what he told me during a one-on-one interview after the game.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us coming to Cincinnati,” Dumervil said. “The offense is legit. Andy Dalton is a good quarterback. He sits in the pocket pretty good and can scramble and make plays. A.J. Green is an absolute monster, man. The offensive line is solid across the board and well-coached on defense. We played 60 minutes and came away with the victory. We had to because this is no easy team to defeat. They just have to start believing.”
Lewis attempted for weeks to find something that would motivate and increase the output of his players during their drought. He called out some of the team’s leaders publicly, which is rare for Lewis. Now challenging someone’s manhood usually gets the competitive juices going, but not in this case. Therefore he turned to positive feedback and by George, I do believe he's got it.
“I think if we continue to play with this confidence, we can win some games,” Peko said. “Beating a team like New York is a big confidence-builder for us. After losing four in a row, this was a huge win for us, and we have to keep it going. We have to keep getting better and relying on one another. If we continue to do that, we’ll be one hell of a team. I can tell you this now, we believe.”