To be quite blunt, when it came especially to the offensive side of the ball, it wasn’t difficult to find players for the Pittsburgh Steelers who had a bad day in their Wildcard round loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
While it may have been most obvious among the offensive linemen, who were largely dominated by the Ravens’ front seven for much of the game, there were others who struggled to perform as well, among them tight end Heath Miller.
He may have finished the game with six receptions for 76 yards—which are worthy numbers, statistically, mind you—going back over and watching his actual performance at times saw him looking every bit his age, despite largely playing well through the second half of this season.
Miller was guilty of a dropped ball early in the game, about midway through the first quarter, on a third down play. While the resulting reception would have in all likelihood been well short of the first down, it was just another reminder that the former Pro Bowl tight end is not quite the sure thing he was once made out to be.
There was no area in his game against the Ravens in which he did particularly well, in fact, whether it was as a receiver, working in run support, or providing pass protection. Miller was partially guilty in this run stop early in the second quarter on Josh Harris for no gain. Motioning around the end at the snap, Miller collided with his own lineman and overshot C.J. Mosley on the pull, who wound up making the primary tackle on the play.
He made up for it—or more accurately, Ben Roethlisberger made up for it—on the following play as Miller was mistakenly left uncovered deep down the field, with nobody within 10 yards of him on either side. Roethlisberger had to scramble out of pressure, but he was able to find his tight end standing there waiting for something to happen, catching the ball for 30 yards. It’s hard to find an easier 30-yard catch than that.
Later in the game, midway through the fourth quarter, just as the Ravens took an eight-point lead, the instinctual communication between Miller and his quarterback broke down on a second and four play.
Miller hardly stepped off the line of scrimmage when he turned and looked for the ball. With the linebacker coming underneath, however, Roethlisberger anticipated Miller continuing his route over the middle, and thus led his throw in that direction. Instead, Miller stopped, and could only stab at the ball for an incompletion instead of a first down.
Late, with the game already essentially out of reach, admittedly, Roethlisberger completed a seven-yard pass to Miller on fourth and three, but the inside linebacker was able to stick an arm in his chest and knocked the ball out. The Ravens recovered, and the Steelers’ season was over.