On multiple occasions in 2020, we praised veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald for having the presence of mind to rush the football back to the proper spot so that the Cardinals could get another play snapped quickly as precious seconds ticked away. Another receiver who wears the same number as Fitzgerald would benefit significantly from following the example he set during his career, in more ways than one.
Steelers receiver Chase Claypool, after making a key fourth-down catch as the Steelers tried to score a touchdown that, with a two-point conversion, would have forced overtime in Minnesota, celebrated the accomplishment. Meanwhile, tick . . . tick . . . tick. A teammate had to rip the ball away from Claypool, who seemed oblivious as to the reason for getting the ball from his clutches. It then tumbled away, with tight end Pat Freiermuth retrieving it and giving it to an official so that it could be set.
The play ended with 38 seconds left in regulations. The Steelers eventually spiked the ball with 24 seconds to play.
The delay cost the Steelers at least one more shot at the end zone. Maybe two.
It was Claypool’s second blunder of the night. After a pointless unnecessary roughness call in the first quarter, which happened when he stuck his finger in the face of Vikings cornerback Bashaud Breeland, Claypool landed on the bench for a while.
After the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked whether Claypool got the message. “We’ll see,” Tomlin said.
We did. He failed to understand a critical situation, and he cost his team in the clutch. The loss dramatically reduces Pittsburgh’s chances of getting to the playoffs.
The team shouldn’t be surprised. An article at Steelers.com from March suggested referred to Claypool as having a “diva quotient.” That apparent attribute became the common denominator in a pair of key moments on Thursday night.