The visitor's locker room was eerily quiet as the Carolina Panthers processed their overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons 11 days ago. Players were devastated at going from the high of PJ Walker's 62-yard, game-tying touchdown that was called the "throw of the year'' by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the low of failed opportunities to win on missed kicks by Eddy Pineiro.
Defensive end Brian Burns was so down he declined postgame interviews for the first time all season and canceled his Halloween plans the next day.
As Pineiro positioned himself against a cinder block wall to explain how he missed the winning 48-yard extra point with 12 seconds left in regulation (after a 15-yard celebration penalty) and a 32-yard field goal in overtime, a quarterback who didn't play a snap stood with several other teammates behind the sea of reporters surrounding the kicker to show support.
Baker Mayfield was hurting like everyone else, in some ways perhaps more. Two years removed from being on the brink of becoming a top-tier quarterback, he was on the brink of being irrelevant.
He'd lost his starting job to Walker, an undrafted player out of the XFL, and there have been no signs that Baker, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft, will get it back.
Mayfield hadn't lost his ability to lead.
"What Baker is having to deal with ... being healthy and a backup, is not an easy thing,'' veteran long-snapper JJ Jansen said as he recalled Mayfield's support of Pineiro. "When I tell you he's been as good of a leader as we've had on this team, going through everything that he's gone through, he's been as good as anybody on the team.''
This is Mayfield today.
This is the Mayfield who has been there when you peel back the brash persona that defined his career until now.
Not many have seen him exposed like this.