The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers gave us an instant classic in the genre of Bad But Entertaining Football to kickoff Week 14 on Thursday night. This looked like it would be a Vikings rout for most of the game: Minnesota led 29-0 after a field goal with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. The Vikings would blow that lead in incredible fashion, but ultimately held on to beat the Steelers, 36-28, on their home field.
Pittsburgh went on a furious scoring binge starting late in the third quarter, but they simply ran out of time. Maybe that wouldn’t have been the case if star wide receiver Chase Claypool didn’t take a few extra seconds to celebrate after getting a first down late in the team’s final drive.
The Steelers trailed 36-28 with 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter when they started their final drive from their own 4-yard-line. Ben Roethlisberger hit Claypool for a 38-yard gain on the second play to give the drive life. The Steelers got all the way to the Minnesota 34-yard-line when they faced the decisive play of the game to that point: 4-and-1 with 45 seconds left and no timeouts available.
Roethlisberger dropped back to pass and found Claypool for a clutch first down. After the catch, Claypool stood around and taunted for a few moments as the clock ticked down. It was a surreal scene in the final seconds of a close game.
Just ZERO situational awareness by Chase Claypool here pic.twitter.com/0rsTrlyOW7— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) December 10, 2021
It’s clear Claypool has no idea of the situation his team was in. A Steelers offensive lineman grabbed the ball out of his hands, and for a moment he seems confused at what’s happening or what he should do next. The Steelers spiked the ball, but they could have had a few seconds back without the celebration.
The Steelers could have used a few seconds at the end of the game. Pittsburgh had the ball on the Minnesota 12-yard-line with three seconds left, but Roethlisberger’s pass to Pat Freiermuth fell incomplete after a vicious hit by Harrison Smith.
I really thought Pat Freiermuth had this catch to make this game even more drunk. What a play by Harrison Smith to preserve any more embarrassment. pic.twitter.com/ijs2UxPKGD— Noah Friedman (@NoahFriedman_) December 10, 2021
The buzzer sounded and the game was over.
Claypool was also briefly benched in the first half by head coach Mike Tomlin after being flagged for a personal foul. Tomlin didn’t seem pleased after the game.
Tomlin concedes he benched Claypool for his first quarter personal foul. Safe to say, Claypool didn’t get the message. pic.twitter.com/c2momo8Mdb— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 10, 2021
Claypool otherwise had a very good game, finishing with eight catches for 93 yards. Unfortunately, this was the one time celebrating after doing something awesome isn’t cool.
The Vikings improve to 6-7 with the win. The Steelers fall to 6-6-1 with the loss. Just another classic for the Thursday Night Football time capsule.