The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line struggled blocking against a tough New York Jets front three, so the offense did little running accordingly. Falling behind 17-0 by the end of the first quarter didn’t help matters either.
But surprisingly, there was one player for the Steelers who did have a good day as a run blocker: tight end Heath Miller. The veteran former Pro Bowler has not really been himself in the running game in recent years, especially since his knee injury, but this game proved to be an exception.
Take, for example, this four-yard run on second and five from the Jets’ 32, on the Steelers’ drive following New York taking a 17-0 lead at the end of the first half. The offense showed a lot of potential during that possession, but it ended in a red zone interception.
Lined up in a 13 personnel set with Miller to the left and Matt Spaeth and Will Johnson on the opposite side, LeGarrette Blount took the handoff and ran off left tackle with it, following a pulling Johnson and David DeCastro.
Off the snap, Miller first doubled on Muhammad Wilkerson with Kelvin Beachum, knocking him to the ground, before peeling out and blocking Demario Davis. Had Johnson read Miller’s block properly and continued past to pick up the safety, this could have possibly been a bigger play.
A few plays later on the same drive, it was Le’Veon Bell in the backfield, finding a running lane off left tackle once again with a Miller seal block on Davis. The tight end lined up off right tackle at first before being motioned to Beachum’s side.
DeCastro pulled again on this play and picked off his man, while Beachum did a commendable job working a combination block down the field, giving Bell a good hole for eight yards on what was one of the best running plays of the day all around for Pittsburgh.
This play still later in the same drive only picked up two yards in the end, but it gives us another example of Miller’s versatility as a run blocker. While he may not quite be the blocker he once was, he’s still capable of carrying out assignments that many other tight ends are not even asked to do.
The Steelers ran out of the two tight end set, with Spaeth on the right side of the line and Miller to the left. Miller washed around the back of the line to the right off the snap and picked off the safety coming in free with a shoulder block, which allowed Bell to hit what little was there of a hole in the first place.
Late in the third quarter, the offense came out again with two tight ends, but this time both lined up to the right, with Millers offset tight against the line. Marcus Gilbert and DeCastro worked to push Sheldon Richardson inside while Miller waited on the penetrating linebacker. The tight end buried him with the shoulder, driving him, and Richardson, sideways and giving Bell a path to follow.