The text message Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool received from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Friday couldn’t have been more direct.
“I just told him just keep doing what you’re doing and you’re going to have a big game,” Roethlisberger said.
A historic one, too.
The Canadian-born Claypool scored four touchdowns, including the clincher on a 35-yard dart from Roethlisberger with 2:59 to go, and the Steelers remained unbeaten with a 38-29 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
The 22-year-old second-round pick out of Notre Dame dashed into the end zone on a two-yard jet sweep in the first quarter, sprinted away from defenders on a 32-yard catch-and-run in the second, danced across the goal line on a five-yard wide receiver screen in the third and finished off Philadelphia in the fourth when Roethlisberger audibled to a play Claypool had never run before, at least while lined up in the slot.
At the snap, however, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder from Abbotsford, B.C., never hesitated, racing past overmatched Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry and into the end zone.
“We changed the play,” Roethlisberger said. “I can’t say enough about Chase getting down the middle of the field and make a play for us.”
Claypool became the first Steelers player to score four times in a game since wide receiver Roy Jefferson did it in 1968. He’s also the first rookie since at least 1950 to catch three touchdowns and add another on the ground, and the first Canadian to have three receiving touchdowns in one game since Joe Rooney of the Duluth Eskimos on Oct. 23, 1927, six years before the Steelers were established and more than seven decades before Claypool was born.
“It is definitely insane, it’s crazy,” said Claypool, who hauled in seven passes for 110 yards and added six yards rushing on three carries. “But I don’t really like to think about breaking records or making history. It’s super cool but it’s not something I go into the game thinking `I’m going to try to make history today.'”
The Steelers (4-0) needed every one of them after nearly squandering a 17-point third-quarter lead while letting the Eagles (1-3-1) convert 10 straight third downs.
Carson Wentz threw for 258 yards and two scores to go with two interceptions and moved Philadelphia in position to take the lead with just more than three minutes to play. Jake Elliott’s 57-yard field-goal attempt drifted right, however, and Roethlisberger turned to Claypool one last time.
Pittsburgh took over and a personal foul facemask by the Eagles pushed the Steelers into Philadelphia territory. Facing third-and-eight from the Eagles' 35, Claypool – who’d had a touchdown earlier in the quarter called back owing to what he called an “awful” offensive pass-interference call – listened to Roethlisberger’s instructions and found himself against the smaller, slower Gerry. Next thing he knew Roethlisberger was looking his way – again – and he was in the end zone.
“You’ve got to make those plays,” Claypool said. “[Roethlisberger] is trusting you. He’s putting the ball where it needs to be. You make the plays and the trust builds faster.”