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An Appreciation of Steelers Heath Miller in Just One Play

I’ve written plenty of pieces on Heath Miller and there has never been one that hasn’t been deserved which means there hasn’t been a bad one. What can you really say negatively about this guy? Well, he did drop a pass Sunday against the Giants so away with him!

Not really…

Actually, there was another play in the win over New York that I thought epitomized the hard work and effort of the big man from Virginia. It wasn’t on a touchdown or otherwise big-gaining play, but it was on a pretty important play as the outcome of the game depended on it.

The Steelers had already squandered an opportunity to tie the game when Mike Tomlin ordered the ‘Fake that was a Mistake’ but the defense held and the Steelers had the ball back and were driving. Facing a third and two inside the Giants’ 10 yard line, the Steelers turned to Isaac Redman for the necessary yardage which he ultimately picked before scoring the game-winning touchdown two plays later.

On the play in question, Miller was lined up at his usual tight end position and this time was on the left side of the formation. As the play developed quickly, it was obvious that Miller was beaten to the inside by Osi Umenyiora who has beaten plenty of good NFL offensive tackles and tight ends so there was no shame in it whatsoever.

As Redman found little running to the middle-right, he bounced back to the left where Umenyiora was now waiting. Miller, who had essentially lunged at Umenyiora on the snap of the ball and found air, was collecting himself on the double. As quickly as he stumbled, he had sprung back up and looked back inside.

A Giants’ defensive back had read the play and was literally now on top of the play with Umenyiora but Miller hadn’t given up. The two Giants were getting ready to pounce on Redman and would have easily been limited him to a loss or gain of maybe a half-yard, but Miller saved the day.

Big number 83 took a last, lunging step back inside and buried his shoulder into the lower hip area of Umenyiora knocking him and the defensive back out of Redman’s way allowing him to gain not only the two yards for the first down, but several more to get down to the two-yard line. As I mentioned, the Steelers would punch it in two plays later for the winning points.

It was the type of play that high school and college coaches should use for numerous reasons but chief among them is that the play is never dead and that you never stop hustling. Lesser players would have fallen on the turf until the whistle or maybe would have made a half-hearted attempt to get back into it but not Miller.

The guy catches passes and gets first downs and blocks on the outside and blocks on the inside and as fans, we know all this, but sometimes we need to be reminded of just how important Heath Miller can be for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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