STILLWATER — Collin Klein's final pass had fallen incomplete in the Oklahoma State end zone, sending a record crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium into a frenzy, and the Cowboy players and coaches had already gone back to the locker room after celebrating with each other and the OSU students.
Yet there were still hundreds of students gathered in the stands, savoring a thrilling 52-45 OSU victory over Kansas State that keeps the Cowboys in the national title hunt.
They were also probably trying to digest everything that had just happened. I know I was.
It's easy, and appropriate, to point to the obvious cases of redemption and resiliency that took place in a wild fourth quarter where 32 points were scored.
Brandon Weeden threw a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six, in the first half then orchestrated two touchdown drives in the final 5:16 by completing 4 of 5 passes for 106 yards.
Justin Blackmon fumbled twice in the game but snagged one of those touchdowns on a 54-yard score down the middle of the field and finished with 205 receiving yards.
A defense that could not stop the gritty Klein made a stand at the 5-yard line in the final seconds, with Markelle Martin and Brodrick Brown coming up with crucial pass break-ups in the end zone.
The most important Cowboys made many of the game's most important plays. But there were plenty of other moments and players that allowed OSU to survive its biggest scare of the season thus far.
Like Isaiah Anderson's 33-yard catch in the middle of the field on the first play of the Cowboys' game-winning drive that got OSU in K-State territory in a hurry. Before that, he had just two catches for 13 yards.
What about reserve linebacker James Thomas? He batted away a Klein pass on K-State's final drive and later helped force an incompletion when he got pressure on the Wildcats quarterback. That came after he set up a game-tying touchdown in the first half when he collected his fourth interception of the season and returned it to the K-State 5-yard line.
Then there's Tracy Moore, who consistently got open in the middle of the field in the first half and finished with a career-high 146 receiving yards when fellow inside receiver Josh Cooper was unable to play because of a hamstring injury.
Or Alex Elkins, who had a team-high 13 tackles and made an impact play in the fourth quarter when he wrestled John Hubert down in the backfield after receiving an option pitch.
Or the special teams combination of Quinn Sharp and Kyle Hale, who pinned K-State at its own 1-yard line on its first drive of the game, which ended in a Klein fumble and led to OSU's first touchdown.
The collective effort was needed with the Cowboys facing real adversity for the first time since they were down 17 points at Texas A&M more than a month ago.
That win in College Station is regarded as a defining moment of the season because it showed the Cowboys' ability to respond after falling behind. Saturday's crazy contest should be put in the same category because it showed OSU's ability to respond again and again whenever it looked like K-State would dash the Cowboys' national title dreams.
“I just don't know that there's going to be many teams that can make it through until the end that don't have some close calls,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “It's just the way it is. You're just kind of glad to get out of it and go down the road.”
To survive those games, and compete for championships, a team needs depth. It needs confidence. It needs leadership.
The Cowboys keep showing they have all of the above.