I'd just asked JuJu Smith-Schuster how hard it was to take, the way that game wound up and ... well my question went on, but he didn't wait to hear the rest. Now, as with the flickering frames before he fumbled away the Steelers' 26-23 overtime loss to the Ravens on this Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field, he'd anticipated what was coming.
Only this time he acted upon it right away. While it was still in his control:
"Aw, I feel terrible, man," he began before I ended. "It was literally the worst feeling ever. Knowing that you have the game go into overtime, knowing that you have the ball, knowing that ... Marlon Humphrey, that's what he does. He made a great play in a great situation, and he came through for his team."
I tried a follow-up, albeit one with the most obvious conceivable answer: Is there anything he could have done differently to avoid the fumble?
"I mean, just protect the ball. Squeeze it harder."
Yeah. Squeeze it harder.
Look, the list of stuff to hate from this seismic downer of a day was so long it'd take hours to manually push a medical cart across it.
I hated, as I'm sure we all did, Mason Rudolph getting knocked out cold by Earl Thomas' helmet-to-chin hit. It was sickening. As Alejandro Villanueva explained of why he instantly began leaping in a panic toward the sideline for assistance -- and this is a guy who's seen some things -- "His eyes were open, and he was just laying there." Here's hoping the good folks at Allegheny General Hospital have him on safe ground, as we began hearing by nightfall.
I hated -- a lot -- that Heinz Field didn't have a working cart, for crying out loud, and that a barely functioning Rudolph had to be propped up to his feet and helped off by B.J. Finney and Zach Banner. If DeMaurice Smith and the NFL Players Association aren't inquiring about it that by Monday morning, they're derelict in duty.