Steelers WR Chase Claypool Helped the Vikings Eke Out a Win Over Pittsburgh

Claypool made a key fourth-down catch and celebrated as valuable seconds ticked off the clock at the end of the game

Chase Claypool of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes photos with fans before a game against the Vikings. The WR is being blamed for celebrating during a last-minute drive where Pittsburgh failed to score in time.
Chase Claypool of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes photos with fans before a game against the Vikings.
Stephen Maturen/Getty

The Minnesota Vikings, who had a 29-point lead late in the third quarter, did almost everything they could to blow Thursday night’s game to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Not on Pittsburgh wide receiver Chase Claypool’s watch.

With less than a minute left and his team desperately attempting to tie after closing to within eight points by putting up 28 points in a furious comeback attempt, Claypool made a key fourth-down catch to give Pittsburgh a new set of downs close to Minnesota’s 35-yard line. With the clock running because Pittsburgh was out of timeouts, 23-year-old Claypool elected to celebrate the catch instead of handing the ball to an official so the Steelers could get set and run another play or spike the ball. By the time tight end Pat Freiermuth was able to retrieve the ball after it bounced around the field and get it to an official so that it could be set, nearly 14 seconds had ticked off the clock from the time Claypool was tackled.

After spiking the ball with 24 seconds to play following Claypool’s catch, the Steelers got the ball to the 12-yard line and had a chance to force overtime with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but Ben Roethlisberger’s throw to Freiermuth in the end zone as time expired was broken up Vikings safety Harrison Smith with help from teammates Xavier Woods and Anthony Barr.

Had Claypool done what he needed to do to help his team win after making his catch, the Steelers would have had more time on the clock and likely would have had at least two more attempts to get into the end zone. Had Pittsburgh scored, there’s no guarantee they would have gotten the two-point conversion after failing on one earlier in the game, but Claypool’s brainless antics ensured the Steelers didn’t even get the chance to try.

“Definitely gotta be better,” Claypool said afterward. “I got tackled near the hash, did my little first-down point and went to hand the ball to the ref. He had just got there. So, even if I got right up and looked for him, he wasn’t there. He ran down the field to come get the ball. The ball got knocked out of my hands. That’s what cost us time. But I definitely do have to be better. I knew the situation. ” 

Claypool, who caught 8-of-9 targets for 93 yards in the 36-28 loss, also got a dumb taunting penalty in the first quarter and found himself benched by Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin for portions of the game. It appears whatever message Tomlin was trying to convey to Claypool by benching him for the penalty was not received by the young wideout.

Speaking after the game, Roethlisberger passed the buck for dealing with Claypool and other players to Tomlin.

It’s not really my job,” Roethlisberger said via Brooke Pryor of “To me, that goes up to coach Tomlin. That’s what he needs to do. That’s his job as the head coach. As the quarterback, it’s my job to help manage what we do on the field. Dealing with player issues … that’s the coach’s job, not mine.”

Tomlin now has 10 days to get through to Claypool and the rest of his team before the Steelers host the Tennessee Titans in Week 15.

“We were JV again tonight and I’m talking up front on both sides,” Tomlin said. “We’ve got to be better than we were. We’ll turn over every stone to do that. We’ve got a long week coming up between this and our next one. We’ll make good use of that time and assess not only what we’re doing, but who we’re doing it with.”

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