There was no mistaking or masking the raw emotion generated by the dagger from Dallas, by the game the Steelers had identified as the one in which they would make a line-in-the-sand stand slipping away in the final minute.
"I'm devastated," free safety Mike Mitchell admitted after Cowboys 35, Steelers 30 on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. "That was a tough contest for us. We shouldn't have lost that game. Hats off to them, they executed. But I felt like we made the plays to lose that game not win the game and that's very un-Steeler-like, so I'm disappointed for that."
HARD TO SWALLOW:** The lead changed seven times overall, including four times in the fourth quarter, with three of those coming in the final two minutes.
The Steelers went ahead 30-29 with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter but a 32-yard touchdown run by Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott with nine seconds left finally sealed the Steelers' fate.
Elliott's dash, his third touchdown of the game, was preceded by a face-mask penalty against Steelers strong safety Sean Davis that moved the ball from the Steelers' 47-yard line to the Steelers' 32.
"That's getting your heart ripped out right there," Mitchell said. "We're going to have to display a lot of mental toughness to bounce back from that one, which I'm confident we can do.
This one's tough, but I think we have the right group of guys for the job. I think we have the right head coach. I think we have the right ownership. I'm not going to lie at all and say that this one doesn't sting. In my eight years of playing, this one's tough, it's a tough one."
Added linebacker Ryan Shazier: "We definitely have the guys in the locker room to definitely turn it around. We just have to find ways how to do it. If we have to practice harder or do whatever we need to do, we have to find a way to win and find a way to get to the playoffs.
"We're a good enough team to win the Super Bowl but lately we haven't been playing like it. We just have to find a way to do it."
CRITICAL PENALTY: Davis' face-mask foul occurred after 5-yard completion from quarterback Dak Prescott to tight end Jason Witten to the Steelers' 47 with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
"I was trying to get him down," Davis said. "I was trying to get him down, poke the ball, grab something, he just ducked. Once I felt my fingers in his face mask, I let go. I was coming in so fast, that's what happened."
Mitchell understood how such a thing could occur.
"That was a football penalty," he said. "It wasn't a pre-snap or a post-snap penalty. It was one that happens during the play. It's a tough play."
DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS:** Head coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers lacked "enough discipline and detail in our play to be victorious."
The Steelers agreed.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "We need to be more disciplined and more accountable."
Shazier: "We don't have enough detail."
Running back Le'Veon Bell: "We obviously are making costly mistakes, and they hurt us. We need some more detail and we're going to keep falling short until we get that."
The need for more detail seemed to be unanimously agreed upon in the locker room.
How to achieve it is the issue in the wake of a losing streak that's reached four consecutive games, dropping the Steelers to 4-5 on the season.
"I don't know," Roethlisberger said. "Is it players? Is it coaches? I don't know but we need to get there quick."
THEY SAID IT: "I thought our offense, they played fantastic and it really hurts as a defense not to make enough plays at the end to win the game." _ Mitchell.
"They gave us the score when we needed it. We let them down. We let our offense down big time." _ Defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
"I know this from my days at Duke, if we as a defense are giving up explosive plays it's going to be very hard to win no matter how good our offense is." _ Cornerback Stephon Tuitt.