Amidst numerous storylines to come out of Pitt's 29-26 triple-overtime loss at Notre Dame on Saturday was a comment from quarterback Tino Sunseri that drew national attention and started a healthy debate locally about what teammates should expect from each other.
The Panthers had a chance to defeat the Fighting Irish in second overtime, but Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal, and Notre Dame scored a touchdown to end the game in the third overtime period.
After the game, Sunseri was asked if there was one thing that lost the game for Pitt, and he singled-out Harper.
"We missed a field goal; that's why we lost the game," Sunseri said. "It came down to a special teams play; we didn't make the play. Give credit to Notre Dame for being able to finish it off and win the game."
On Monday, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst was asked about Sunseri's comments.
"I don't agree with it," Chryst said. "We all understand it and need to make sure that everyone is squared away there. I don't agree with the comment, and I think there are a lot of plays. A lot of guys did stuff to give us the position to win that game, and we all did some things that led to us not winning. It doesn't fall on one guy."
After Sunseri made the comments about the missed field goal, he did offer a clarification of sorts following a pow-wow with Pitt Sports Information Director E.J. Borghetti.
"What I want to make sure is straightened out is, obviously one play doesn't define a play, winning or losing," Sunseri said. "It's not Kevin's fault. It's a team effort. When you put yourself in that situation, a team has to be able to make the plays. A team has to be able to finish a game off. A team has to be able to work together to win a game. It's not one individual player's fault; it's a team game. The team lost today, and we have to make sure that we keep on focusing on 'team' and executing as a team."
Still, the crux of the original comment lingered in the days after the game. The irony of Sunseri's comment is that Saturday's game was Pitt's first with names on the jerseys. Chryst said that the coaches decided not to put names on the jerseys at the beginning of the season because they did not feel that the players were much of a "team."
But last week Chryst announced that the names would be going back on the jerseys because "We have some guys doing some really unselfish acts for this team," as he said last Monday. Sunseri's comments would seem to fly in the face of that concept, and Chryst reiterated what he sees as being important at his weekly press conference.
"It's a team game. There were 200-and-some snaps, and every one of those plays impacted the game. Guys know that. Everyone knows that. And everyone that plays the game and follows the game knows that there are significant plays, and some are more significant than others. But I don't know if one play ever is the difference in a game. It could be a difference, but it could have happened in the third quarter or the fourth quarter. All of those can be, and we all know that."
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