Pittsburgh Steelers: Chase Claypool Showed Promise In Important Area

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Chase Claypool showed up in one area of his game on Thursday that is important moving forward for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came up short on Thursday night against the Vikings, and a dreadful first half turned into a mad dash in the second half. They closed the gap, and had a chance to get to overtime on the final play, but a good play design and throw were negated by a fabulous defensive play.

Of course, there might’ve been time to throw to the end zone more than once if Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool had been more aware after picking up a first down on the final drive. His decision to celebrate the first rather than help get things set up for a spike was a rough blunder and one that won’t soon be forgotten.

If we move away from that, though, this was one of Claypool’s better games as a Steeler. His eight catches for 93 yards on nine targets was tied for third in 2021 in terms of production via yardage. It wasn’t just that he had one of his better games hauling in a high percentage of his targets, but it’s how he won that’s important.

Two of Claypool’s catches were huge plays in important moments. The first was on a third and four near the end of the third quarter, where Ben Roethlisberger threw it up to Claypool to make a play. The ball was a little inside, but Claypool skied up to make the play, plucking it out of the air even though Patrick Peterson had good position on it. The second, on the final drive, came with Pittsburgh backed up on their 10. Roethlisberger again trusted Claypool to make something happen, and he did, making a great catch for 38 yards in a tough spot going to the ground.

What makes these plays important is how Chase Claypool won. He was mostly a big slot for Notre Dame in college, and often won with that size and speed combo vertically and at the catch point. Up until this point, it was a very mixed bag for Claypool at the catch point. He has struggled to get good position and wasn’t coming down with those plays in contested spots despite the size and frame.

Seeing those wins show up, especially in big spots, is important for the second year wideout. Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers have other weapons, but they don’t have ball-winner for Roethlisberger to trust on the deep ball. If Claypool can be that for them, they are by no means out of the race for the playoffs. It’s also huge for the development of a second-year receiver who needs to be better in this area, and it’s going to be interesting to see if that trend can continue.