By Matthew Marczi
The Steelers were quick to pounce on bringing back tight end Matt Spaeth after the Chicago Bears released him this offseason in a corresponding move that saw them being in Martellus Bennett. The idea was to give Heath Miller a truly complementary piece at tight end that could stay in and block.
Of course, that plan was derailed early on in training camp when Spaeth suffered a Lisfranc foot injury and was place on the short-term injured reserve list, as he went on to miss the first 12 games of the season.
But the Steelers activated him late last week and he saw his first action of the year against the Miami Dolphins. In fact, they threw him into the fire early and often, as he played an instrumental role in their lone touchdown drive of the first half, their second of the game after going three-and-out to start the game.
On the 12-play drive, he was involved in 10 of them, and while he may have some rust to shake off, he acquitted himself well making his debut so late in the season, in the snow no less.
On the first snap of the drive, Spaeth was asked to block Cameron Wake on the right side away from the play. Even though Wake eventually scraped off him, Spaeth still had the presence of mind to keep his body in front of him. Of course, the play is most significant as his first play of the year.
On the fourth play of the drive, Spaeth did a better job on Wake, though he got help from Miller, who chipped the defensive end to turn him. It allowed Le’Veon Bell to get around the edge.
Still a few more plays later into the drive, Spaeth was blocking against Jared Odrick. This time, he did a great job of turning him, which allowed Bell to run through the C Gap for a nice six-yard gain.
Toward the end of the drive, the Steelers sent Spaeth out on a screen. While it wasn’t the most graceful spectacle I’ve ever been witness to, he was able to get a piece of the defensive back, which was just enough to allow Bell the room necessary for a key third-down conversion on a drive that would finish in the end zone.
There was another play at the end of the drive where Spaeth was pushed off his initial block, but came back to plow into a defensive player when he saw that Bell was still churning his legs for yards. Earlier in the drive, he helped push Jonathan Dwyer forward on a key third and one run. It’s almost as though he’s glad to be back in Pittsburgh. Maybe I don’t speak for everybody, but I’m glad he’s back in Pittsburgh at least.