Chase Claypool made four catches for 69 yards on the Pittsburgh Steelers' failed desperation drive at the end of Thursday’s 36-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but the production became an afterthought after the second-year wide receiver cost his team a precious few seconds and another down to potentially tie the game.
A first-down gesture after a fourth-down catch slowed the speed of the official spot, even more so because the ball was knocked loose from Claypool's hand when a teammate tried to retrieve it. With zero timeouts and under a minute to play, a quick spike was needed to stop the clock.
Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the issue Tuesday and cited Claypool's youth as a factor.
"Obviously, he had a misstep in that area. He had missteps in other areas," Tomlin said, via ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "He's a young guy that's growing and developing. [In] a lot of ways that can't happen fast enough for him, and it can't happen fast enough for us.
"We're going to continue to push that growth and development as long as he's a willing participant. He has been. And so we're just going to keep moving forward."
The Steelers were able to run just four more plays after Claypool's mental lapse, and came up short from the Vikings' 12-yard line when time expired.
A 15-yard penalty early in the game and a missed block that resulted in a third-down stop for the Vikings were among Claypool's other costly mistakes. He also had a fumble, although it was overturned on replay to allow the Steelers to maintain possession. As a result, Tomlin benched Claypool for part of the game.
As for Claypool's ill-advised first-down gesture, Tomlin said the importance of getting the ball spotted immediately is built into how the Steelers coach two-minute-drill football.
"These guys don't come to you as finished products," Tomlin added. "There's a growth and development that has to take place."
The Steelers' offense, problematic all season, needs all it can get from Claypool, but with none of the nonsense. At 6-6-1, the team's playoff hopes are dwindling by the week.
Claypool's next chance for a reprieve comes Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans.