Steelers’ receiver Chase Claypool becomes first Canadian to throw NFL regular-season touchdown pass since 2003

Photo courtesy: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Chase Claypool has become the first Canadian-born NFL player to throw a touchdown pass in a regular-season game since 2003, adding to his already eclectic resume.

Claypool achieved the feat during the first quarter of his team’s Week 8 clash with the Philadelphia Eagles, taking an end-around on fourth-and-goal before floating a one-yard pass to fullback Derek Watt in the endzone.

It marked the first passing attempt of Claypool’s three-year professional career and broke a 19-year drought for passing touchdowns by Canadians in the NFL. Toronto native Jesse Palmer was the last to find paydirt, throwing a pair of touchdown passes for the New York Giants on December 28, 2003, in a loss to the Carolina Panthers. It would be his last game in the NFL.

Current Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien threw two touchdown passes during the 2020 season and is entitled to Canadian citizenship via the law of jus sanguinis. However, he was born and raised in the United States. His uncle Mark Rypien, who was born in Calgary, threw for 115 touchdowns over the course of an 11-year NFL career, winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Washington Football Team and being named the game’s MVP in 1992.

While Canadians have not thrown a regular-season touchdown in the 19 years between Palmer and Claypool, there has been one postseason exception. Recently retired punter and Regina native Jon Ryan tossed a touchdown on a fake field goal for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, sparking a comeback that propelled his team to the Super Bowl. He was the first-ever punter to throw an NFL playoff touchdown and the first Canadian since the elder Rypien in 1993.

Claypool added four catches for 45 yards as the Steelers fell 35-13 to the Eagles. The touchdown marked a bright spot in what has been a difficult 2022 campaign for the Abbotsford, B.C. native, having been held to 32 receptions for 311 yards and a single score through eight games.

After being selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the University of Notre Dame product scored 11 touchdowns — nine through the air and two on the ground — while catching 62 passes for 873 yards in his rookie campaign. He followed that up with 59 receptions for 860 yards in 2021 but found the endzone just twice in year two.

The outspoken and sometimes controversial receiver stated before the season that he believes he is a top-three receiver in the NFL and set a goal of 1,300 receiving yards in 2022, a significant increase in production from his first two years.