Sweat still was rolling down Jon Embree's forehead late Saturday afternoon when he took his seat in front of reporters and began to explain how his Colorado football team just wasn't good enough in an epic tussle with Cal in his first home game in Boulder.
For a moment he seemed like a crazy man considering how well the Buffs played in the second half of a 36-33 overtime loss, but his words were right on the money.
"We continually find a way not to finish," Embree said.
The Buffs, now 0-2 to start the Embree era, were four plays from finishing off a team that drubbed them by 45 points last year and earning Embree's first win. They had the Bears heading backward in overtime with first-down-and-30 from the 35-yard line after two penalties.
Quarterback Tyler Hansen and wide receiver Paul Richardson had produced record-setting performances in the passing game to put them in position to even their record at 1-1. Freshman place-kicker Will Oliver made all four of his field-goal attempts including a 52-yard try to establish a CU freshman record, a 32-yard attempt to tie the score in the final minute of regulation and a 22-yard attempt in overtime to give CU the lead.
The kicking gods really don't hate CU.
And then Colorado defenders Ray Polk and Parker Orms lost track of Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen briefly allowing Allen to haul in a 32-yard pass from quarterback Zach Maynard that gave the Bears first and goal. Two plays later Allen beat Orms again to score the game-winning touchdown catch in a thrilling introduction to the Pac-12 Conference despite the fact the game won't count in the league standings.
"I was excited to go into overtime," said a brokenhearted Orms who grew up watching games in Folsom Field and left the first game he played in the stadium feeling like the goat. "I thought we were going to win. And they say it doesn't come down to the last play, but it felt like that for me. I've just got to let it go though and come out next week and not let that happen."
Embree noted how difficult it will be today for the coaching staff and players to look back on the contest and see all the missed opportunities that could have made the difference. There were those two early drives in the first half, when the Buffs penetrated the Cal red zone to come away with a total of only three points.
And there were all those costly penalties, a whopping 12 of them for 98 yards. Two of those miscues came on the Buffs' final drive of regulation and contributed to them settling for a field goal and a tie instead of possibly scoring a touchdown and avoiding overtime.
Embree took responsibility and vowed to fix the lack of discipline, which has lingered in the program over several seasons and through a coaching change.
Most didn't expect the Buffs to win the game because of the result last season. No one expected Hansen to throw for a school-record 474 yards. He completed 28-of-49 passes and threw for three scores.
The Buffs are supposed to be a physical program that emphasizes the run. While they haven't been able to get the running game going to this point early in the season, the idea that they might is tantalizing considering how a receiving threat like Richardson will complement it.
Cal couldn't cover the wiry and elusive Buff wideout, who made 11 receptions for a school-record 284 yards and two scores. His two touchdowns covered 66 and 78 yards respectively.
"Once he gets in the open field, he's really hard to catch," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.
For the second straight week the Buffs fought back from a double-digit halftime deficit and gave themselves a chance to win. The Colorado offense didn't give up a sack after allowing seven last week and seven a year ago against the Bears.
Saturday's game was the first time the Buffs have ever lost when not allowing a sack and not committing a turnover, according to the CU sports information department.
There were myriad reasons for CU players, coaches and fans to feel good about the future of their team and what lies ahead this season. But no one ever feels good after losing, especially when the loss probably should have been a win.
"That team and that staff expected to be 2-0 and we're not," Embree said. "I don't want to sound sour. I don't want to diminish what the kids have done, but we came here to win.
"We prepared and we trained to win. Not to be close. Not to, 'Oh, next week.' It is too much work and it is too hard and 'so close' ain't it."