Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool and the Pittsburgh Steelers title dreams were dashed on Sunday, as the AFC North division champions fell 48-37 to the Cleveland Browns in the NFL’s wildcard round.
Pittsburgh had a historically terrible start to the game, falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter. Cleveland set an NFL record for the most points scored in the first quarter of a playoff game with that amount.
The Steelers battled back in the second half, and got within 16 points of the Browns, but ultimately were unable to close the gap.
Claypool put up strong numbers in the loss, with 59 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The win was the first playoff victory for the Browns since 1994. Cleveland last won a road playoff game in 1969.
Pittsburgh started off the season at 11-0, but then lost four of their last five games before Sunday’s season ending setback.
The 2016 Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad finished his rookie season with 873 yards receiving, nine touchdown catches and two rushing touchdowns.
Claypool is under contract with the Steelers for the next three years under his rookie deal, but next year’s Pittsburgh team may look drastically different.
The team has a total of 19 unrestricted free agents, including 10 who were considered to be starters. There is also some doubt about the future of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with some speculating he may retire. Roethlisberger remains under contract for one more year with Steelers, but turns 39 in March and he also commands a big salary.
He told media he would like to return, but the decision is up to the Steelers.
Claypool and the Steelers return to action next September.