Peko's shot at Bengals is nonsense and he factored into playoff losses, too
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - During his lengthy tenure with the Bengals, Domata Peko was a good guy to deal with from a media perspective, quick with a laugh and a quote and often the quote was what he thought you wanted to hear. That is what likely happened recently when he made some comments in Denver about his former team that were way off base.
Peko signed with the Denver Broncos in the offseason after the Bengals wisely chose to let him walk, and according to the team's website - DenverBroncos.com - he said he left the Bengals to sign with Denver because the franchise has a championship mindset and the Bengals don't.
"In Cincy, we were kind of always talking about, ‘Oh, I want to win a playoff game. I want to win a playoff game,’ ” Peko said. “But over here, we’re talking about winning championships. That’s what brought me here. I want to win a championship.”
I have covered the Bengals regularly since the 2014 season and have never once heard a Bengals player or head coach Marvin Lewis talk about winning a playoff game as the singular goal. The media has talked and written about the importance of taking that first step and fans have certainly clamored for it, but no one publicly inside that locker room has said that.
Leading up to the Bengals playoff game at Indianapolis in the 2014 season, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was asked what it would mean for the franchise to win a playoff game for the first time since the 1990 season and made it a point that winning just one playoff games WASN'T the goal.
"That's not what we're playing for," he said. "We're not playing for one win. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl."
Even after the Bengals failed to make the playoffs last season to break a string of five straight appearances, Lewis said: "The overall thing, the goal is to be world champions. Only one group gets to do that."
Peko was most likely trying to be complimentary of his new employer, because he wants to be liked, and the truth is the Broncos have won three Super Bowl titles, all since 1997.
He's probably also a little hurt that the Bengals didn't want him back - at least at the price he was asking - and understandably so. By most metrics and grades he's been an average player for a long time who was basically a first down run stopper, and the Bengals are trying to get younger and more athletic there, which is why they drafted Andrew Billings in the fourth round last season.
Peko was a solid pro for a long time and he deserves credit for that, and the Bengals did make six playoff appearance in his 11 seasons with the team.
He also should remember, though, that he was a part of the reason the Bengals lost those six games.
While Dalton received the brunt of the criticism for losing the four of the last five (he wasn't around for the 2009 loss and was injured and didn't play in the 2015 loss) the run defense wasn't very good in any of the six losses in which Peko participated.
The Bengals allowed 994 yards on the ground in those six losses (an average of 166.7 per game) and 4.75 yards per carry. The Pittsburgh Steelers duo of Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint combined for 123 of the Steelers' 167 yards rushing in the most recent playoff loss in the 2015 season, while the year before that Daniel "Boom" Herron and Zurlon Tipton combined for 96 of the Indianapolis Colts' 114 rushing yards. Neither Herron nor Tipton logged a single NFL carry last season, while Toussaint had 14 carries and Todman had nine (for the Colts).
Peko could have perhaps helped lead the way to the first playoff win.
He can say all the nice things he wants about the Broncos, and there's no dodging the fact the Bengals haven't won a playoff game in decades, but don't think for a second what Peko said had any grain of truth to it.
The Bengals' goal is to win the Super Bowl, period, but they can't do that until they finally win a playoff game again.