Howard was talking about the big-picture comeback that saw the Phillies go from 14 games out in the race for the second wild card on Aug. 22 to just three games out as they started the seven-game road trip that concluded Thursday night with a 16-1 rout of the rotten Mets.
The win included an RBI single in the first and a ninth-inning grand slam from Howard, giving him seven RBIs in the last two games.
What do you think about the Phillies' comeback?
It is a fascinating question.
The immediate thought is that it's almost certainly going to be too little, too late. Even after the Phillies recovered from the disappointing series in Houston by sweeping the sad-sack Mets, their playoff hopes grew a little less likely because of the Cardinals' sweep at home over the Astros.
By the end of the night, the Phillies' deficit remained at four games, with three teams - St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles - still ahead of them and only a dozen games to play.
The second thought is about all the games that slipped away. There were the 10 shutout innings from Cliff Lee the Phillies wasted in an April loss at San Francisco. There was the night in Atlanta when Roy Halladay coughed up a huge lead. There was the night in Washington when Chad Qualls squandered an eighth-inning lead in an 11-inning loss.
There was the stretch after Halladay landed on the disabled list in which the Phillies went 9-25 to fall from two games over .500 to the low-water mark of 14 games under .500. That killer segment of the season included two winnable games in Baltimore, a sweep by the Blue Jays in Toronto, and a devastating blown save by Jonathan Papelbon shortly before the all-star break here at Citi Field.
There was the road trip earlier this month when the Phillies could have gone 6-0 against two playoff teams if not for a ninth-inning meltdown in Atlanta and a botched umpire's call in Cincinnati. And then there was the inexplicable series in Houston.
Could-haves, should-haves, and would-haves are only for teams that are not quite good enough. The teams that are good enough reflect instead on all the close victories that got them over the top. And the terrible teams - have we mentioned the wretched Mets? - are just thankful when the season is over.
Howard's take on the Phillies' resurgence is quite different from mine. Instead of thinking about too little too late and too many costly losses in close games, the first baseman is more pleased with the way his team has kept fighting when all appeared lost.
He called it a testament to the character of his teammates, coaches, and manager. Even knowing the Cardinals won earlier in the day, Howard was still thinking about the Phillies' playoff quest possibly having a successful ending.
Reminded that the Phillies' run of five straight division titles started with a character-filled comeback that allowed them to chase down the Mets in 2007, Howard said he believes that if the Phillies can make the playoffs this year, it will be even more impressive.
He's right about that, because the 2007 Phillies didn't have to deal with nearly as many injuries as this team, and they did not have to watch the general manager become a major seller at the trade deadline.
The Phillies have been a better second-half team in all but one of manager Charlie Manuel's eight seasons as manager, and this 2012 team is the sixth one to play at a better-than-.600 clip after the all-star break.
At 39-24, the Phillies have a .619 winning percentage since the break. Only Manuel's 2010 (.667) and 2011 (.634) teams played better baseball in the second half, and those teams finished with the best record in baseball.
This Phillies team finished Thursday night with a season-high 21 hits, including six before they made an out, and they headed back to Philadelphia with a lopsided win over a team that is bad beyond description. The Phillies will show up for work Friday at Citizens Bank Park with their hopes for a playoff berth faded but intact.
If Ryan Howard is delighted by that fact, he has every right to be.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brookob.