Mixed Success For Heath Miller In Season Finale

By Matthew Marczi

The 2013 season was a difficult one for Heath Miller. Not only did he miss the entire offseason, he missed the first couple games of the season before he was even fit enough to take the field on his surgically repaired knee that he tore in Week 16 of the 2012 season, which was his best from a production standpoint.

Even when he was able to return to play, it didn’t come to him easily. There’s no question that he was unable to play on all cylinders throughout the year, but despite that, he still found ways to be productive.

He only finished with just a single touchdown—on a shovel pass no less—which is the fewest he’s ever completed a season with. Additionally, his 10.2 yards per catch this season was, in fact, the lowest total of his nine-year career. Still, he managed nearly 60 receptions and 600 yards in his 14 games, numbers that represent the third and fourth highest totals of his career, respectively.

His blocking ability was tested throughout the year, including in the season finale against the Browns. Remember, he is still barely just a year removed from the knee injury. The final game of the year offered a mixed bag of success.

The Steelers have gotten into a habit of pulling Miller with David DeCastro lately, and they’ve used it with success, as on this late first quarter play. His block on D’Qwell Jackson helped free Le’Veon Bell for a seven-yard gain.

The Steelers ran the same play again in the third quarter with similar success. This time Miller chipped on Barkevious Mingo before sealing off Craig Robertson as Bell once again cut through the line for a modest gain.

While this play didn’t have much chance of success due to the penetration allowed by DeCastro and the secondary coming up, Miller’s inability to contain Eric Martin contributed to minimizing the yardage gained on this play.

One of his worst plays came just a few plays later, as Paul Kruger ripped past his block at the line as the linebacker dragged down Jonathan Dwyer after just a short gain as the Steelers were trying to pound out the clock on the ground in the fourth quarter. Again, another play with not much chance of success regardless of his efforts, but he contributed to minimizing the gain, allowing his assignment to make the tackle.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    The fact that he came back after major surgery, missing out on most offseason training and the first two game and still had 58rec. for nearly 600yds is pretty impressive. You could tell he was lacking strength and fluid movement in the blocking game, but he and Spaeth should be ready to roll in 2014… the running game could be dangerous

  • Rick M

    It’s become commonplace to underestimate the physical effects of an ACL injury. It’s a really serious injury that requires a long recovery time to return to one’s old self. Heath showed great guts and determination getting back when he did and playing at the level he did. He’s only 31 and he should be fully back to the Heath that we know and love in 2014.

  • srdan

    Yes, peterson is an anomaly, and nobody wants to recognize that.

    Heath was never fast, his hands are what made him dangerous in the passing game. His speed is irrelevant in the running game. I agree with you that he is 31 and should be back to his full strength. There are lots of productive TEs in their thirites, and there is no reason we shouldn’t expect the same from him.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Yup, he is going to be even better next year, and the running game will be better, but if they do not draft a real good TE, then David Johnson needs to be given a shot for sure. I know he has been injured but he is good insurance as he blocks as a TE and even better as an H-back. Of course he must be healed up and ready to go.

    Looks better for next year.

  • steeltown

    If no other TE is drafted and if he’s healthy, I would definitely give the roster spot to DJ over Paulson.. DJ can actually block and fill in at fullback if needed

  • Pete Wallace

    On the last of the four clips it seems that everyone was blocking left when Bell cut it back to the right . Millers back along with everyone else except Ben’s was to the play. How can you fault him when it looks like every Brown who was blocked saw the move Bell was making but no one on the Steelers line knew the play was going right so just how and why was this Millers fault anymore than it was Bell’s? I am no expert but you can’t fault someone for their blocking if the RB doesn’t run the play the way it was called to be blocked. I will allow for the fact that the back can see the hole and has a choice where to cut it up, but I saw several defensive players shedding blocks because they knew where Bell was going while the O-line only knew where Bell was supposed to go. Isn’t Bell just as much to blame as anyone else? This is where I take umbrage with people commenting on the way a player is preforming when they don’t have all the facts about the way the play was supposed to work.
    I don’t know the way the play was designed either but I didn’t place blame on anyone. Looked to me like the best hole was between DeCastro (66) and The Fla. kid (77)

  • Madi

    The last play was clearly designed to go left. Miller was hauling ass to get onto the other side of the defender, and was doing a decent job of it. If Dwyer had gone where Miller expected him to, his block would have at least been okay. Dwyer cut waaaaay back and so Heath was all of a sudden out of position. That kind of thing happens all the time; I don’t really put it on the blocker.