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.