Claypool converted a fourth-and-1 catch, getting rolled to the 34-yard-line with 37 seconds remaining in the contest. Instead of immediately popping up and rushing the ball to the middle of the field to spike the pigskin and stop the clock, the Steelers wideout took a few seconds to celebrate his personal achievement.
Guard Trai Turner, feeling the urgency of the situation, rushed over to try to get the ball and bumped Claypool at the end of his celebratory moment. The ball spilled to the ground, necessitating tight end Pat Freiermuth retrieving it and tossing the ball to the ref so it could be spotted.
The Steelers got the spike completed with 25 seconds on the clock. The extra five seconds or so cost Pittsburgh late, potentially wiping out another last-second shot at the end zone.
After the game, Claypool didn't seem to think his celebration was the issue. His reaction following the spike suggests he considered it Turner's fault.
"I got tackled near the hash, did my little first down point, went to hand the ball to the ref," Claypool said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He just got there. Even if I got right up and looked for him, he wasn't there. He ran down the field to come get the ball. The ball got knocked out of my hands. That is what cost us time. But I definitely do have to be better. I knew the situation."
In this moment, Claypool was the anti-Larry Fitzgerald.
The lack of urgency from the second-year receiver was evident during the final drive. Two plays earlier, he caught a 13-yard pass on second-and-17, was tackled in bounds, and nonchalantly meandered before flipping the ball to the ref, bumping into a defender, and taking his time to get lined up. Claypool caught that pass with 1:28 left. The Steelers used up more than one minute for three plays to gain 11 yards before the spike with 0:25 remaining on the clock.
The lackadaisical final drive underscored a Jekyll and Hyde night for Claypool. At times, the talented receiver made huge plays, catching eight of nine targets for 93 yards, including a team-long 38-yarder as Pittsburgh stormed back from a 29-point deficit to make it close. But all the greatness was overshadowed by the foolishness.
On the Steelers' opening drive, Ben Roethlisberger hit Claypool for a 6-yard gain. The receiver got up and stuck his finger in the facemask of cornerback Bashaud Breeland, leading to a personal foul penalty.
Roethlisberger said he didn't see the need to talk to Claypool about the penalty or other issues.
"That's not really my job," he said. "To me, that goes up to coach (Mike) Tomlin. That's his job as head coach."
Tomlin said after the game that he benched Claypool for a short spell. Asked whether the young receiver learned from the mistake, Tomlin responded: "We'll see."
Based on the end-of-game situation, the message might still be processing.