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Chase Claypool’s yards per catch from Week 15 may break the NFL’s computer

For the die-hard statisticians out there, the way one play has been scored leaves a bit of a numerical conundrum.

NFL: DEC 19 Titans at Steelers Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to walk off Heinz field Sunday afternoon with a victory over the Tennessee Titans. Their 19-13 win was not of the conventional variety as the offense failed to move the football throughout the day yet was able to take care of the ball while the Titans struggled in that department. Scoring three fourth-quarter field goals, all off of Titans’ turnovers, allowed the Steelers to tie the game, take the lead, and ultimately keep a field goal from sending the game to overtime.

When it came to the numbers behind the Steelers offense on Sunday, they came up short in many ways. The Steelers only had 35 rushing yards with Najee Harris getting the majority of them with 18 yards on 12 carries. Ben Roethlisberger only had 148 passing yards with the Steelers leading receiver being Diontae Johnson with 38 yards followed closely by Pat Freiermuth for 37 yards and James Washington with 36 yards.

When it came to the other receiving numbers, Ray-Ray McCloud came in at the bottom with one reception for 0 yards. Another wide receiver, Chase Claypool managed 12 yards on zero receptions.

Wait… What?

That’s correct. When looking at the official NFL statistics, Chase Claypool was credited with 12 receiving yards without actually catching a pass. Instead, Ray-Ray McCloud was credited with the reception and yet did not receive any of the yards from the line of scrimmage.

If you watched the Steelers game on Sunday, you likely have an idea of the play which caused the statistical anomaly. In case you missed it, here it is:

Steelers vs. Titans, 2nd quarter, 12:46

So because Ben Roethlisberger tossed the ball forward in what many describe using the term “pop pass,” it counts as a reception for McCloud. With McCloud handing the ball off to Claypool, he is the player responsible for the yardage gained in what is deemed a passing play. So Claypool gets the yards while McCloud gets the reception.

This particular play was immediately after the Steelers first takeaway in the first half of the game. The drive started on the Titans 41-yard line and this play took them down to the 29-yard line on a 12-yard gain. Ultimately, the drive stalled and the Steelers kicked a field goal, but this play is what got them going to get them in Chris Boswell’s range.

What makes it so interesting from a statistical standpoint is the fact Claypool did not have another catch on the day. In order to figure out his yards per catch, it is taking the 12 yards gained by Claypool from the line of scrimmage on this play and dividing them by his number of receptions. With that number being zero, most of us remember from middle school math this is an impossible situation. The answer is not simply zero as that is the result of when you are taking zero divided by another number. When the divisor is zero, it is simply an impossible situation. If someone is asked to divide zero eggs into 12 groups, each group would have zero eggs. But if someone was asked to divide 12 eggs into zero groups, it simply can’t be done.

Now that I’ve completely nerded out into what will be a great topic for the Steelers Stat Geek podcast, it just goes to show how Chase Claypool‘s yards per catch cannot be calculated for Week 15. The 12 receiving yards will go toward his season total while keeping his number of receptions the same and will change those statistics accordingly. But as for this game, there’s no answer to the value.

While this is fun to point out, it’s ultimately inconsequential to the game. It’s just a fun little tidbit from a memorable win. Ultimately the Steelers, despite their lackluster offensive performance, got the win in Week 15 against the division-leading Tennessee Titans and moved to within a half a game of the lead in the AFC North.