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Pitt vs. Notre Dame: Panthers' good effort ends in 29-26 loss

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Jonathan Daniel

I'm not a 'one play' guy - never have been. And so when Pitt lost to Notre Dame yesterday, 29-26, it was difficult to stomach. Not because Pitt was 'this close' to knocking off a very good team, but because of 'the call.'

The call will go largely unnoticed in the eyes of Notre Dame fans that are either delusional, too drunk on eight or nine Guinesses, or just not paying that close attention.Just how delusional you ask? I always love paying attention to the gamethreads of the opposing teams. On that pass interference call, these were two of the main thoughts in their gamethread by Irish fans from SB Nation's One Foot Down:

Good flag --- FINALLY
Blatant PI

Um, yeah - kinda like that.

And, no - don't troll One Foot Down...they're good guys and this has nothing to do with them. Rather, it's merely to show that opposing fanbases see two different things. And while the PI call was big for Pitt fans, it won't even be remembered tomorrow by the Irish fans.

But if you're a Pitt fan, you know exactly of that which we speak. if you missed it, 'The call' was a phantom 4th quarter pass interference call against K'Waun Williams. The scenario went as follows:

Pitt was up by two touchdowns on the Irish with Notre Dame driving. On a crucial 4th down, Pitt appeared to stop stopped the Irish and would have taken over on downs. Now, with about 14 minutes left, the game was far from over. But taking seven points off the board, and, at the very least, allowing Pitt run down the clock, would have made things much more difficult for the Irish. Instead, the officials determined (incorrectly, I add, parenthetically) that there was pass interference.

Makes sense.

The problem I have with the horrendous call (which, by the way, was so egregious that the announcers said as much), is that it not only allowed Notre Dame to score but changed the complexion of the game as it swung all momentum towards the Irish. Pitt simply wasn't the same and floundered the rest of the way.

Did Pitt lose on one play? No - a team can never lose on a single play. The fact is that the Panthers had several times to fix the poor call and still come out on top. They had the ball back again, but failed to do anything. They also failed to stop Notre Dame again as the Irish went to score another TD. Pitt even had the ball back late in the half and couldn't do anything with it. So, if you're a Pitt fan claiming injustice, that's fine. But if you're a Pitt fan saying the Irish only won because of that call, I've got a problem with it.

So, what does that leave us? Well, Jon over at One Foot Down, who was gracious enough to answer some of our questions in last week's Q&A pretty much has it right with his assessment. The Irish are clearly behind a few teams right now despite their perfect record. Pitt came to play, for sure, but I don't think the Irish are in the class of potentially even a one-loss team like LSU. Notre Dame is a very good team - make no mistake. But their quarterback play is a bit spotty and I really hesitate to call them great at this point.

From our standpoint, you've got no other choice but to be proud of the way Pitt played. They haven't had a great year and a close loss certainly doesn't make things better. But seriously, if you're not happy with how these guys showed up today, you've got issues. Pitt could have done a few more things, but just didn't have enough gas in the end. I don't fault them for that and they essentially played the No. 3 team on the road to a tie.

And if we're being fair (and I really strive for that on this blog), Notre Dame did a great job of coming back. They were flat in the first half, but with their backs to the wall, just played with more urgency in the second. And ... that's about all the good I can muster up at this point when talking about them.

The problem for Pitt fans, however, is that the team is unbearingly frustrating to watch. How on earth does Pitt play so well today against a top-ranked team, then job to the likes of Youngstown State? Part of that can be attributed to getting better throughout a season, but the difference shouldn't be so vast that you can lose by two touchdowns to an FCS team at home, then practically beat the No. 3 team on the road. The consistency just isn't always there with Pitt, and that's what annoying.

That doesn't change the fact that you've got to be proud of their effort on Saturday.

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