Eyes moist, voice lowered and head bowed at times, Foster Moreau had constructed a wall to repel consolation, comfort, excuses or sympathy.
The Saints' tight end, and New Orleans native, could have been told millions of times Thursday night that NFL games never come down to one play. He'd have rejected the assertion each of the millions of times.
When Moreau sprung open in the back of the end zone in the Caesars Superdome on a play that began with 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, third-and-goal at the Jaguars' 6-yard line and the Saints trailing Jacksonville by a touchdown, and Derek Carr's pass caromed off his hands rather than sticking to them, perhaps the Saints' best and last opportunity to tie the score evaporated.
And after Carr's fourth-down attempt for Chris Olave fell incomplete, it sealed New Orleans' second straight loss, a 31-24 decision to Jacksonville.
"It's tough," said Moreau, who played high school ball at Jesuit in New Orleans and collegiately at LSU in Baton Rouge. "In front of every man, woman and child I've ever known. It's a dark place to be. It's the National Football League. It doesn't come down to one play, but it comes down to one play. The team fought as hard as we did. It's just unacceptable. It's just pathetic."
Moreau leapt for the pass, but couldn't latch on to it.
"They pay us to do a job," he said. "It's routine. It was the right throw, it was the right read. I ran a little short on the route, I thought something different. It's a short week. Let's say it's a lack of focus, lack of concentration. It's unacceptable. It's unacceptable."
Moreau finished with three catches for 33 yards, including an 18-yarder. But it was the fourth target, the one he didn't successfully complete, that left him disconsolate afterward.
While the Saints observed their Crucial Catch game Thursday night – the NFL's mission to combat cancer through early detection and risk reduction – Moreau has been a remarkable spokesman after having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma during his physical with the Saints during his free agency visit last spring. He's in full remission.
To a man, Saints players said Moreau wasn't to blame for the loss, and running back Alvin Kamara noted that Moreau has overcome something much more serious than a dropped pass.
"He's a pro. Foster is a pro," Kamara said. "Obviously, I did (offer encouragement to Moreau). It's going to be bigger plays, it's going to be more plays out there. I just told him, man, he's blessed from what he's been through. (The incompletion) ain't nothing. That's not nothing.
"I ain't worried about Fos not making that play. Honestly, I don't feel like we should be in that position right there, where we're looking at that and we're like, 'Aw, man, he should have caught it.' Of course he should have caught it, he knows he should have caught it. Anybody in that position right there should have caught it. We're pros.
"But, Fos, if there's anybody out there that cares, that's uplifting his teammates, that's doing everything he can to try to get a win and try to uplift everybody else to get them in the right mind frame to win, it's him. I'm not worried about that."
Carr also stated his support for his Moreau, who has been Carr's teammate in all five of Moreau's NFL seasons.
"Everybody in the stands is mad at him. But it doesn't come down to one play," Carr said. "Our job as brothers and his family, as teammates is to go rally around him. I've been in that moment, where you miss a throw or you throw a bad pick, or something like that. You feel like everybody hates you.
"Our job as teammates is no matter what the situation is, good or bad, put your arm around him and keep him going, keep him pushing. To see our teammates react that way shows me that we have a good group, because I've seen in moments like that where everybody just starts pointing fingers at that one play. Or, if a kicker misses one at the end they just point at him.
"There's 160 other plays that could have been changed throughout the game. I've never been a believer that just because it happens in that moment (one person is to blame for the outcome). There's so many things that we could have done that wouldn't even have put him in that situation."
Eventually, Moreau's self-analysis may soften. But that wasn't happening Thursday night.
"I don't know if anyone within 200 miles of this place wants to hear my voice right now, but these guys are fighters, they're resilient," Moreau said. "This is the right team, and we need to take our opportunities. That's what it is."