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Past Bengals teams would have self-imploded, but not this one

This was the Bengals team that would never say die as they came back to life in the fourth quarter down 17.

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing by 17 points entering the fourth quarter would have been a deficit leading many NFL teams to fold and call it a day.

This Bengals team was not one of them. Even though they trailed by 17 entering the final period, they weren't about to go down without a fight, even if it was against the two-time NFC champs and arguably the most physical team in the NFL.

Domata Peko has been starting at defensive tackle for the Bengals since 2006, and even he admits many of the teams he's been on would have waved the white flag in this scenario. As Peko told ESPN's Coley Harvey, this was a Bengals team that would not fold under this level of adversity.

"In years past, if we were down 17, we would have rolled over. We would have flopped and gave the game up," Peko said. "But this is something special here. I've got a great feeling about this group."

Tight end Tyler Eifert also pointed out how even when all seemed lost for the Bengals, no one panicked or showed signs of fear they would lose.

"There was never a look in anyone's face that this was going to end badly," Eifert said. "It just says there's no quit in anybody in this locker room, and the Seahawks are a dang good football team."

Another reason past Bengals teams would have folded was because Andy Dalton in the past hadn't proven capable of leading a team back against a vaunted defense, like the Seahawks'. This year's Andy Dalton is new and improved and was capable of rallying his team, as offensive tackle Andre Smith told the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner.

"He said to stay calm, stay comfortable," Smith said. "We are going to win this game. That was it."

Not only is Dalton playing better this season, but he's become a better leader, who now infects his teammates with confidence and the belief they'll win. Smith believes it, "Andy is a great (expletive) leader," he added.

Head coach Marvin Lewis agreed with those sentiments.

"Andy's had that poise," Lewis said. "The other guys have raised their level around him. So when things don't quite go their way, they are mentally tough enough to let Andy do his thing."

The confidence Dalton and the offense now have in each other combined with a defense that's often carried this team may just make this the most confident team Peko has ever been part of.

"We have confidence in this group, and that's why we have something special," Peko said. "This shows our perseverance, our character and being able to withstand tough times."

Andrew Whitworth believes this Bengals team might be the best one he has been a part of.

"This team is the most talented we've had and probably has the most resiliency," Whitworth said. "What (this win) does is the belief is the only thing that gives you the ability to go do that so when you do that you have to rise to a new occasion, new level of play maybe you never had played at. Maybe you play higher and better than ever had to step up and play."

Every NFL season, we see pretenders who look like contenders have great starts, only to fall off as the season goes on and their weaknesses are exposed. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened to Cincinnati last season after looking great in their 3-0 start. A 3-0 start in 2006 also had many pegging the Bengals as title contenders before floundering to an 8-8 mark.

Teams can simply get lucky and start seasons hot thanks to easy schedules, but 5-0? As the weeks go on, this Bengals team continues to distance itself from the pretenders and rise into the class of true Super Bowl contenders. But don't tell them that, for now, their focus is on Week 6 in Buffalo.