Steelers’ Chase Claypool Offers Weak Explanation for Ill-Advised Celebration

Chase Claypool Steelers

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers WR Chase Claypool attempts a catch in Week 14.

During Thursday night’s Week 14 matchup, second-year Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool caught eight passes for 93 yards during a 36-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, with much of that production coming during a furious comeback that saw the Steelers try to erase a 23-0 halftime deficit.

But his positive contributions were overshadowed by his mistakes, which included a post-catch celebration after converting a fourth-and-1 with 36 seconds left in the game. Taking the time to execute his self-described “little first-down point” wasted precious seconds that might have helped the Steelers tie the contest and send it to overtime.

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Claypool was mocked on social media for the celebration, with the following tweet a representative example:

Or consider this even more exaggerated representation:

Claypool Explained What Transpired After 4th Down Conversion

Following the game, Pittsburgh sports reporter Dejan Kovacevic asked Claypool about his “ill-advised” first-down pose.

“Yeah, you know, definitely gotta be better,” began Claypool. “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 had got right up and looked for him he was (right) there. So he ran down the field to come get the ball but the ball got knocked out of my hands. That’s what cost us time.”

Claypool went on to reiterate that he definitely has to be better, but insisted that he was aware of the situation.

“I know I’m near the hash and the ball is placed on the hash but I gotta be better and the ball shouldn’t get knocked out of my hands,” he concluded.

Never mind that veteran offensive guard Trai Turner had to rush over to Claypool to try to retrieve the ball, which somehow got jarred out of the wide receiver’s hands, leading to further delay.

Pittsburgh’s offense eventually got set and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spiked the ball, but not until there were only 25 seconds left on the clock. The Steelers went on to run four more plays before time expired, with rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth failing to come down with a Roethlisberger pass in the end zone on the game’s final play.

Mike Tomlin Benched Claypool Earlier in the Game

But the aforementioned celebration was hardly Claypool’s only mistake or questionable decision.

During Pittsburgh’s first drive of the game he was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after catching a six-yard pass, having poked defensive back Bashaud Breeland in the face after the play.

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Then on the following drive, Claypool fumbled while reaching the ball out on a rushing attempt, but after replay review the call was reversed, saving him from responsibility for a turnover. On the very next play, he missed a blocking assignment that resulted in the Steelers failing to convert a third-and-1.

At his post-game press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that he benched Claypool—however briefly—during the game.

When asked if the former second-round pick has received the message he was sending, Tomlin didn’t seem convinced.

“We’ll see,” he said, shaking his head before moving on to answer the next question.

Of course, it behooves Tomlin & Co. to do all they can to help Claypool overcome any perceived immaturity issues, as his rare combination of size and speed has—at times—been difficult for opponents to account for.

Thus far in 27 career games, Claypool has 109 receptions for 1,626 yards and 10 touchdown receptions. His breakout game came in Week 5 of the 2020 season, when he scored four touchdowns in a 38-29 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He went on to be named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, which prompted Tomlin to encourage his precocious wideout to “stay humble.”

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