Although he looked hobbled at times through his first nine regular season games, the simple fact that Heath Miller was even on the field and contributing at all this fall was nothing short of awesome after he sustained a brutal knee injury back in Week 16 of last season.
As Pittsburgh’s most effective pass catcher during the 2012 campaign, many of us in Steeler Nation were waiting with great anticipation to see when the Pro Bowl tight end would finally look like his old self this year.
Thankfully for Miller and his team, he proved to be an effective weapon in Pittsburgh’s passing game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night. Not only did the veteran tie his 2013 season-high with eight catches, he set a 2013 season-high with 86 yards while he shredded the center of Baltimore’s defense throughout the second half.
With opposing defenses forced to scheme against the likes of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and even rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, Miller has the potential to emerge as an even bigger receiving threat down the stretch for the Steelers. In fact, Miller could very well be primed for another productive outing against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow afternoon.
What could be working in Miller’s favor is the fact that Miami’s defense has had trouble containing tight ends at times this fall.
Jordan Cameron of the Browns torched Miami’s defense for nine catches, 108 yards, and a touchdown on opening day. The following week, Coby Fleener of Indianapolis racked up 69 receiving yards and a touchdown as well. Later in the season, Jimmy Graham of the Saints hauled in four passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns on Monday Night Football.
In addition to those three, Antonio Gates of San Diego (52 yards and a touchdown) and Greg Olsen of Carolina (34 yards and a touchdown) have done solid jobs against the Dolphins in recent weeks too.
As I mentioned previously, Miller also has the luxury of being surrounded by plenty of fire-power on the offensive side of the ball. Not only does he have a Pro Bowl quarterback to throw to him, defenses are unable to key on him due to the matchup issues his teammates like Brown, Sanders, Cotchery, and Bell can create both inside and outside the numbers.
With Miller coming back to full health and looking like the reliable receiving threat he has always been, I am sure that Ben Roethlisberger would love nothing more than to target his tight end more often down the stretch. If Miami’s defenders aren’t careful and Miller is lost in the shuffle among Pittsburgh’s other play-makers however, he has the potential to make them pay dearly in this must-win game for both teams.
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