Despite getting up there in age, veteran Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller has continued to prove his value to the team as both a blocker and a receiver. As a matter of fact, as this season has gone on, it almost seems as though he has turned back the clock some in terms of his blocking ability, which seemed to have diminished in recent years, especially following his knee injury.
As a receiver, Miller had a solid, though no spectacular season, catching 66 passes for 761 yards—each third-most in his career, adding three touchdowns, though he did lose one fumble as well.
While he doesn’t force many missed tackles anymore, even by using his size, he also doesn’t drop a lot of balls, and turns about 75 percent of Ben Roethlisberger’s targets into completions, which is what you want out of your tight end.
But for an offense like the Steelers, you also want your tight end to block, which is why Miller is one of the few tight ends who absolutely just about never step off the field.
Miller was a feature in the opening carry of the game, a counter power run that nevertheless came out of a three-receiver look. Miller lined up off the left side of the line and worked defensive end Wallace Gilberry inside, allowing Le’Veon Bell to get outside, where he made a tackler miss for a six-yard gain.
Miller was first targeted three plays later on second and eight on a pass over the middle, sitting down in the shallow spot of the zone in front of linebacker Vincent Rey, but Rey read the play quickly enough and was able to get an arm on the ball as Miller turned to run, resulting in him losing the ball for no catch on a well-defended play.
Later in the first half, about five minutes into the second quarter, the Steelers were facing a third and medium just shy of their own 40-yard line. Bell flexed wide of Miller, and the two ran off each other to draw the two coverage linebackers in. Bell cut inside before turning out, leaving Miller with the room to turn inside behind the near defender, sitting down in the soft part of the zone as Roethlisberger stepped up into the pocket to find his target for a 20-yard gain.
That drive ended in a field goal, but only because Roethlisberger threw slightly high to Miller on second down from the Bengals’ 14. The veteran tight end took a shot thanks to that. Had it been better placed it would have been a touchdown.
Miller did, however, play an instrumental role in setting up Martavis Bryant’s touchdown later in the quarter. On second and three from the 21, he and Markus Wheaton lined up inside Bryant on the right, short side of the formation. Bryant came back for the screen pass as Wheaton sealed the far defender outside and Miller sealed the near defender inside. The rookie saw the hole and took off for the score.