What Chase Claypool accomplished on the field today was rare, especially within Pittsburgh Steelers history. No rookie for the team had ever scored four touchdowns in a single game. No Steelers player period had done it since 1968. He is one of only three rookies to have ever managed it.
There are a lot of nuances to the scarcity of his accomplishment, on a day that saw him catch seven passes for 110 yards for three scores and carry the ball three times for six yards and another score—many of those plays coming on third down, I might add.
Head coach Mike Tomlin, however, wasn’t about to blow up his rookie’s head. You could certainly say that he downplayed Claypool’s performance to a degree, stressing that it had so much to do with the fact that he had a good matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, with the other weapons needing to be accounted for.
“Let’s be honest, a lot of it might not even have to do with him and his skill set”, he told reporters after the game about the big performance. “We’ve just got a well-balanced attack. We’ve got guys that people have to account for. Guys like JuJu and Diontae and Ebron. And I just think that he’s probably a good matchup for whoever people have assigned to him from a man-to-man standpoint”.
“That’s the strength of having a deep group of guys who are capable of making plays week in and week out”, he added. “There are going to be different guys step up and ascend just based on the matchups presented, and he had a good matchup this week”.
It’s worth noting that Eric Ebron was the only other player with at least five receptions or 30 receiving yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster finished with four catches for 28 yards, James Washington three for 25. Diontae Johnson, who left the game early, had one reception for minus two yards.
But they do still have to be accounted for, and with Claypool’s ability to move around, the Steelers were able to put him into opportune situations, including one-on-one with a linebacker for the game-sealing 35-yard score on third and eight.
“The strength of our pack is the pack, and to have quality depth and guys that are capable of making plays”, Tomlin wrapped up. “He was just going to be the guy today. He had a good matchup and he made some plays and they found that rhythm. I don’t want to make it out to be something more than it is. It was his turn today based on a lot of things, and he was able to deliver”.
Through his first four games, Claypool now has 13 receptions on 20 targets for 261 yards with four receiving touchdowns, plus four rushes for 14 yards and another touchdown. Smith-Schuster and James Conner each have three touchdowns on the season, but nobody else has more than one.