Ben Roethlisberger already knows his rookie Canadian receiver well.
The veteran quarterback was watching film and texting with Chase Claypool on Friday as the two were breaking down plays. It may even have been one of the calls that got Claypool into the end zone on Sunday in a historic performance.
“I just told him, ‘Hey, you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to have a big game,'” Roethlisberger said.
“Building that trust with Ben really helped,” Claypool said. “The longer we go through the season, the more trust we have with each other. So it just shows on the field.”
Claypool scored one touchdown in each quarter for the Steelers and left a mark on the record books. He became the first Canadian to produce four touchdowns in a single NFL game and the first rookie receiver in league history to hit pay-dirt four times in one contest.
“He had a good match-up, 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,” head coach Mike Tomlin said.
Claypool totaled seven receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns to go with three rushes for six yards and another touchdown. Through four games, the 22-year-old has caught 13 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns. He’s averaging 65 receiving yards per game, which puts him on pace for over 1,000 yards on the year.
“Our downfield threat that we’ve proved on film, they were bailing out this week and we took advantage of that. Anytime we made an outside move, they had to respect the go because of what we’ve done in past weeks and that opened things up with the slant,” Claypool said.
Pittsburgh is quickly reaping the rewards of selecting Claypool in the second round, 49th overall of the 2020 NFL draft. It was the Steelers first choice and the franchise zeroed in on the six-foot-four, 238-pounder following the Senior Bowl in January. After Claypool put up ultra-athletic testing numbers at the NFL combine — a 4.42 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical jump — there was a buzz around the league about his seemingly limitless potential.
“He has got some God-given abilities that not many people in this world have — big, fast, strong, and very, very smart. I’m just really proud of the way that he’s playing right now,” Roethlisberger said.
For the first time in 40 years, Pittsburgh has started the season 4-0. Each of the last two times the Steelers were 4-0, the team went on to win the Super Bowl (1978 and 1979). Claypool played a starring role in win number four, although it was not an outing the Abbotsford native could ever have foreseen for himself.
“Nothing to this magnitude. Something like this, you can never predict, but you always go into the game thinking that you’re going to have a really big day,” Claypool said.
“You have to keep that mindset throughout the season, but I would have never predicted this outcome. Coach Tomlin kept telling me to stay humble, I do appreciate him keeping me grounded.”