Clutch Canada: Chase Claypool scores game-winning touchdown to lift unbeaten Steelers over rival Ravens

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers held on to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 28-24 on Sunday afternoon, improving the team’s record to a perfect 7-0.

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh entered Sunday’s game with the second-best rushing defence in the NFL, allowing just 68.8 yards per game. Baltimore blew that number out of the water in the first half, recording 179 yards on 28 carries from J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Lamar Jackson.

It was a poor opening thirty minutes for the Steelers overall, outside of Robert Spillane‘s first quarter pick-six. Ben Roethlisberger completed four-of-ten pass attempts for just 24 yards, while Chase Claypool lost a fumble to Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters.

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit with two third quarter touchdowns from Eric Ebron and James Connor. The defence also tightened up dramatically, allowing just 86 rushing yards and seven points in the second half.

Claypool was targeted nine times on Sunday, making five receptions for 42 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown. The score proved to be the game-winner, coming midway through the final frame on an eight-yard out route.

The native of Abbotsford, B.C. had the quietest game of his young career in last week’s 27-24 victory over the Titans, making one reception for minus-two yards.

Claypool was covered primarily by Malcolm Butler, Tennessee’s best cover man. With the 2020 second-round draft pick drawing coverage, Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson were able to make a combined 18 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Chase Claypool has quiet game in Steelers’ victory over Tennessee Titans

Sunday’s score was Claypool’s seventh of the season, maintaining his average of one touchdown per game on the year.

Baltimore’s defence spent the week preparing for Claypool by having Dez Bryant serve as his stand-in on scout team.

Bryant, 31, recently joined the Ravens’ practice roster after two years out of football. The six-foot-two, 220-pound target was a star over eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, making 531 receptions for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns.

Dez Bryant playing the role of Canadian Chase Claypool as Ravens prepare for Steelers

The Ravens were in position to score a game-winning touchdown late, but a 23-yard pass intended for Willie Snead IV fell incomplete. Jackson finished the game 13-of-28 passing for 208 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards.

Pittsburgh and Baltimore are scheduled to play again in Week 12 on Thursday Night Football. That game will decide the season series between the two teams, one of whom is expected to capture a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers (7-0) are scheduled to visit the lowly Cowboys (2-5) next week, a team that is currently starting rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci because of injuries to Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton. The game will be an excellent opportunity for Pittsburgh to earn an eighth-straight win and finish the first half of the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.