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KRYK'S SUNDAY TAKEAWAYS: Claypool has 10 TDs in 10 games

Chase Claypool  of the Pittsburgh Steelers hauls in a touchdown catch against Jaguars' Chris Claybrooks defends during the first half at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville.
Chase Claypool of the Pittsburgh Steelers hauls in a touchdown catch against Jaguars' Chris Claybrooks defends during the first half at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville.

A touchdown a game.

That’s what Canadian Chase Claypool is averaging so far in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ten TDs in 10 games.

The massively sized speedster from Abbotsford, B.C., broke a 3-3 tie at Jacksonville on Sunday by snaring a 31-yard long-bomb touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger, midway through the second quarter.

‘Mapletron’ is the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era — meaning since the late 1960s — to begin his NFL career by scoring as many as 10 touchdowns (in any way) through his first 10 games. Claypool has eight TD catches and two scoring runs.

Green Bay receiver Billy Howton in 1952 set the NFL record of 11 touchdowns in his first 10 games.

Claypool sill hasn’t even experienced defeat as a pro. His Steelers improved to 10-0 on the season with a 27-3 win over the lowly Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.

Claypool caught four passes on the day for 59 yards. On his straight-line touchdown route, Claypool — lined up outside right — quickly burst past rookie Jaguars cornerback Chris Claybrooks, flew down the right sideline and hauled in Roethlisberger’s crisply thrown deep ball in the end zone, before Jacksonville safety Jarrod Wilson could hustle over to try to break it up.

Jacksonville’s defence continuously lined up to stymie the Pittsburgh rushing attack, all but defying Roethlisberger to try to beat them through the air — which he happily did.

“They just gave us some looks where we felt we needed to throw the ball,” Roethlisberger said.

Claypool caught his TD pass on a five-wide formation, which the Steelers seem to be deploying more and more in 2020. And they’re getting creative with how they deploy receivers and tight ends within four- and five-wide sets.

“We feel confident in that,” Roethlisberger said. “We feel that we’ve got a lot of looks, a lot of different ways that we can move guys around and put them in different spots. I give those (receivers) a lot of credit. We put them in different spots and they just respond. They do what they’re supposed to do and they make plays. The kudos go to those skill guys.”

Claypool is a nightmare to cover for most NFL cornerbacks, in that he’s not only much taller and heavier than any of them (at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds) but he’s faster than many, too, with a 40-yard dash time at last February’s scouting combine of 4.42 seconds.

Consequently, Claypool and the Steelers are routinely benefitting from defensive holding and pass-interference infractions. Twice Jaguars defenders were so flagged while covering the 22-year-old, for gains of 21 and 29 yards.

“The penalties are nice, but we’ll take the touchdowns,” Roethlisberger said. “(Claypool) is working through, he’s fighting through guys holding on to him because he’s such a big body, and strong, and runs. He is understanding that you don’t just want to get the penalty. You want to get the touchdowns, too. He’s going to keep growing in that area, because he’s special down the field.”

The Steelers have six games remaining, including this coming Thursday evening at home against AFC South division arch-rival Baltimore, to cap a U.S. Thanksgiving Day tripleheader.

BILLS REMAIN IN FIRST WITHOUT PLAYING

The Buffalo Bills are 7-3 and remain alone atop the AFC East. They were idle this week yet benefitted when all three of their division rivals lost.

Miami dropped to 6-4 after getting upset 20-13 at Denver.

New England flopped to 4-6 and are all but out of the playoff hunt, after getting upset 27-20 at Houston.

And the New York Jets plopped to 0-10 after losing 34-28 at the Los Angles Chargers.

Not bad for a day off if you’re the Bills.

HOLD THE PHONE … AND HOLD, AND HOLD

Green Bay blew a 28-14 lead at Indianapolis and looked like toast around the 2:00 warning, when Indy was running out the clock, up 31-28.

But, incomprehensibly, officials proceeded to flag the Colts for offensive holding FIVE TIMES on eight snaps between the Colts 48- and Packers 33-yard lines, starting with 2:17 left until 1:47 was left. Officials even called two such holding infractions on one play. Crazy. Colts players were losing their minds, to say nothing of their fans watching on TV, surely.

Each called infraction stopped the clock. It’s hard to run out the clock when the clock won’t run.

As a result of all the stoppages, the Packers got the ball back after an Indy punt at their own six, with 1:25 left in regulation. Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers, he passed the Packers 86 yards in 10 plays for a field goal that forced overtime.

After quickly forcing a Packers fumble in the extra frame, the Colts ran three whole running plays without any holding calls — !!! — and won on a 39-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal.

LAST GALLING GASPS OF MATT PATRICIA ERA

Is that it for Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia? Yes, but probably not before Friday.

After all, U.S. Thanksgiving on Thursday marks the start of the most wonderful time of the year. Meaning it’s not the most wonderful time to fire your head coach.

So maybe Friday.

Whenever it is, Patricia soon will get his walking papers. That seemed a certainty before Sunday. After a dismal 20-0 loss at Carolina — in which the Panthers gave backup QB P.J. Walker his first NFL start, because Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t go on his sprained knee — the firing will just come sooner.

Patricia has been a complete disaster as Lions head coach, even by Lions standards, and that’s saying something: 13-28-1.

To lose in so complete a fashion to a 3-7 Panthers team without its starting QB, when the Lions were 4-5 going in, was as surprising to everyone else as it surely was expected by Lions fans, who have seen such gut punches coming from over the horizon since about four decades and double-digit head coaches ago.

“It was just the complete opposite of everything we talked about trying to do this week,” Patricia feebly said. “We’ve got to coach a lot better and get things right, and we’ve got to play a lot better.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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