By Matthew Marczi
We’ve already taken a look at the strong game that tight end Heath Miller had with respect to fulfilling his duties as a run blocker against the Baltimore Ravens. He has really stepped up in that department over the past two games.
But he has also been building up steam as a pass catcher in recent weeks, presumably as he continues to get healthy. Indeed, the offense seemed to run through him and Le’Veon Bell in the second half, when they were most effective and were able to put up all of their 20 points.
Late in the first quarter, with the Steelers behind the chains on second and nine, Ben Roethlisberger audibled at the line in order to get the favorable matchup of Miller against a linebacker. As it has so often, it worked, with Miller taking advantage of the zone coverage to get himself open for a 12-yard gain and an easy first down close to the Ravens’ 40-yard line.
After a pair of goose eggs on the scoreboard for the first half, the Steelers turned to Miller for their first play of the second half, taking advantage of the in-the-box run look to get the tight end open and on the move, which went for big 21-yard gain on what was eventually their first scoring drive of the game.
Miller was even more instrumental on Pittsburgh’s final drive that nearly tied the game. There was as stretch in which Roethlisberger threw three straight balls to Miller for a pair of first downs. The third of three consecutive passes came near midfield against a confused Ravens defense.
Inside linebacker Daryl Smith was on the far side of the play and with his back turned, trying to signal a play when the ball was snapped, while the other inside linebacker blitzed. Miller immediately shot his hand up in the air, knowing they had an easy play for 13 yards. Always take what the defense gives you.
Of course it didn’t stop there, and it was nearly Miller himself getting into the end zone to put the Steelers just a two-point conversion away from coming all the way back to tie the game late. From the 20-yard line, Roethlisberger found Miller in traffic for a 19-yard gain.
The veteran tight end turned the linebacker inside out as he squeezed through the tight space between Josh Bynes and safety James Ihedigbo. Roethlisberger showed no hesitation throwing that ball, which nearly hit the linebacker in the helmet, showing just how much trust he has in Miller.