When you’re a professional athlete, your best and worst moments happen for all the world to see. For Jaquiski Tartt, his worst moment came when he dropped a gift-wrapped interception with a three-point lead and just under 10 minutes to go in the NFC Championship. After the game, Tartt didn’t shy away from taking responsibility.
“It’s tough but it’s a moment a lot of athletes dream of. Just being in this moment, tie ball game, you can make that game-changing play. For me, that’s something I was thinking about all week. I know I can make that play. The play came up, I didn’t make it. I know that was a big play in the game, a big opportunity for me and for the team, and as a player I just...I feel like I let my brothers down. We didn’t play how we needed to play, we left a lot of plays [on the field], and obviously my play was a crucial one that I left on the field. I really wish I could have it back, but at the end of the day, take your hat off for the Rams. They came in and did what they had to do.”
Tartt was then asked if he over-thought making the interception.
“Nah, man. I see it. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, [Stafford] f*cked up. We’re about to win this game. When it hit my hands, I thought I had it, and then, it just...I don’t know how I dropped it. I didn’t drop a ball in practice all week, caught everything that came my way. It ain’t too much you can do to practice a moment like that, you know? The only time you get that moment is when you get it. For me, it’s a moment of truth, and the moment of truth showed and I didn’t step up.”
First of all, Jaquiski Tartt deserves a ton of credit for coming to the podium and talking about what happened. With the locker room closed for COVID, the 49ers could have hidden him away. Instead, he did the hard thing and answered every question he was asked on the worst day of his professional life. That isn’t easy, and we’ve seen other plays wilt in that moment.
While the drop itself was a huge moment in the game, it isn’t the reason the 49ers lost yesterday. That play happened with just under 10 minutes left in the game. To pin everything on him makes no sense.
There’s plenty of blame to go around after this loss. Tartt deserves some of it, but at least he was willing to step up and take responsibility for what happened. If nothing else, it’s an example to everyone else on the team about how to handle adversity.
For more on yesterday’s loss, check out today’s 49ers in Five podcast. It’s available on this page, and everywhere you get your podcasts.