The Pittsburgh Steelers survived a late scare on Sunday to defeat the Tennessee Titans by a score of 27-24.
Canadian receiver Chase Claypool had the quietest game of his young career, making one reception for minus-two yards. The reception came in motion on a shovel pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter.
Claypool was hit by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney immediately after making the catch and fumbled backward to the Tennessee 41-yard line. He recovered the ball and advanced it eight yards, though the play still resulted in a loss.
The six-foot-four, 235-pound target was covered predominantly by Malcolm Butler, the Titans’ best cornerback. Butler was flagged for pass interference against Claypool on a deep route in the third quarter and was penalized 21 yards for the infraction.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson benefited from the attention Claypool drew. The pair combined for 29 targets, 18 receptions and 165 yards on Sunday, accounting for almost two-thirds of Pittsburgh’s receiving yardage. Johnson missed last week’s game due to injury and played well in his return, making two touchdown receptions.
Claypool tied a prestigious record last week in a blowout victory over the Cleveland Browns. The Abbotsford, B.C. native scored a touchdown on a three-yard run, becoming the fifth receiver since 1970 to reach six touchdowns through five career games.
Gale Sayers has held the rookie NFL touchdown record since 1965 when he scored 22 majors in 14 games. Randy Moss holds the same record among receivers with 17 touchdowns in 1998.
Roethlisberger threw a season-high three interceptions against Tennessee, the second and third of which were the result of tipped passes. His first pick came at the end of the first half on a 45-yard throw into the end zone.
Pittsburgh’s defence played exceptionally well in the first half, limiting the Titans to just seven points. Tennessee’s offence came to life in the second half when A.J. Brown took a short slant route 73 yards for a touchdown.
NFL MVP candidate Derrick Henry had a modest game, recording 20 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. The six-foot-three, 248-pound ball carrier led a comeback victory last week against the Houston Texans with 264 yards from scrimmage and two scores on 24 touches.
The Titans threatened to tie the game with under thirty seconds to play. Veteran placekicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal attempt wide right, sealing the 27-24 victory for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers (6-0) will face another tough challenge next Sunday when they visit the Ravens (5-1). Baltimore will be well-rested as the team is currently on its bye week. The game will have huge playoff implications as the Steelers and Ravens fight for first place in the AFC North.