Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Claypool, who converted a fourth-and-one catch at the 34-yard-line, but, with just 37 seconds left on the clock, he took time to celebrate the play instead of rushing the ball back to the official.
A frustrated Trai Turner went over to grab the ball but bumped into Claypool, causing the ball to fall to the ground which was then picked up by tight end Pat Freiermuth. Roethlisberger spiked the ball on the next play.
“It’s not really my job,” Roethlisberger told reporters when asked if he spoke to Claypool about his celebration. “That goes up to Coach Tomlin.”
He continued: “That’s what he needs to do. That’s his job as the head coach. As the quarterback, it’s my job to help manage what we do on the field and get first downs and try to score. Dealing with players’ issues and whatever else you want to say, that’s the coach’s job, not mine.”
Claypool seemed to half-heartedly take responsibility for the incident but pointed the finger at the ball getting “knocked” out of his hand that cost the Steelers time, not his celebration.
“I got tackled near the hash, did my little first down point, went to hand the ball to the ref,” he 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.”
Claypool was 8-of-9 targets for 93 yards, including a pivotal 38-yarder but his performance was marred by other poor decisions including a personal foul penalty in the opening drive that caused Tomlin to bench him.
“We’ll see,” he said when asked if Claypool had learned from his mistake.