Davis Love III says the United States "ran into a couple of buzzsaws" as he credited Europe for bouncing back from a dismal start to the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Love's team - seeking a first victory since 2008 - roared into a commanding lead with a clean sweep of Friday's morning foursomes - a feat never previously achieved in contests between the USA and Europe.
However, Europe hit back with a trio of fourball wins, reducing the hosts' lead to 5-3 ahead of a repeat schedule on Saturday.
"They seemed to birdie every hole. They played really well," said a gracious Love of the visiting team.
"We played really well in the morning, and we actually played pretty good this afternoon. They just made a bunch of birdies. Obviously Rory [McIlroy] made a ton of them.
"We just ran into a couple of buzzsaws. Our guys still played really well and I'm proud of them for fighting all day.
"I thought we came out and competed real well. Even the guys that were getting run over, buzzsawed, still hung there and still kept making birdies and got these guys as far as they could.
"Brandt [Snedeker] and Brooks [Koepka, the only American winners in the afternoon], they played spectacular and I think everybody played a lot of good golf.
"It was a long day, frustrating a little bit to not come out a little bit further ahead. I know Darren [Clarke, the European captain] is happy with the momentum."