View Full Version : Miller held in check since opener

11-03-2006, 08:01 AM
By John Harris
Friday, November 3, 2006

Tight end Heath Miller has been with the Steelers long enough to know scoring opportunities won't materialize for him every game.
So, when Miller thinks about the touchdown pass that got away from him against the Oakland Raiders, his blood pressure rises.

Miller was as concerned about the fourth-quarter touchdown pass he dropped as he was about the disaster that followed on the next play. Oakland's Chris Carr intercepted Ben Roethlisberger's pass and didn't stop running until he crossed the goal line 100 yards later.

Instead of the Steelers tying the score, 13-13, on a Miller TD catch, Oakland stretched its lead to 20-6 with 9 minutes, 49 seconds remaining and held on for a 20-13 win.

That really bothers Miller, an unassuming second-year pro who caught an 87-yard touchdown pass in the opener against Miami.

"I've had a couple of chances to make plays the past two weeks, and I haven't stepped up and made them," Miller said.

Miller won't hide. That isn't his style. He understands his role and tries to fit in.

He said he's put last week behind him, but he also knows the Steelers offense isn't tight-end friendly. His opportunities to catch the ball are limited.

So, when he failed to pull in Roethlisberger's quick-hitting pass from the Oakland 7 -- a bullet that forced him to reach high but hit him right in the hands -- Miller was left to wonder when his number would be called again in the clutch.

"That's a play I should be able to make," Miller said. "It went right through my hands."

Miller normally makes that type of play.

He scored a touchdown with his first professional reception in the 2005 opener. The 3-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger in the first quarter was the Steelers' first score of the season.

He finished his rookie season with 39 catches for 459 yards and six touchdowns. That ranked fourth among all rookies in scoring with 36 points and fourth among rookies in receptions. Starting 15 games, Miller had the most catches by a Steelers tight end since Eric Green caught 46 in 1994.

In the playoffs, Miller had seven catches for 107 yards, including three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown in the AFC divisional game against the Colts.

Miller's 87-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Batch against Miami this season was the longest touchdown by a tight end in the NFL since Rich Caster's 89-yarder in 1974.

"We could run that play 10 more times, and I wouldn't be that open," Miller said.

Miller has been relatively quiet since making three catches for 101 yards in this season's opener. He's been limited to 11 catches for 97 yards and one score in the past six games.

One reason for Miller's reduced role in the passing game is that defenses are targeting him more after ignoring him as a rookie.

"Some plays, I would be wide open last year. Maybe they're accounting for me this year, and other guys are coming open," Miller said. "We have a lot of weapons."

That's why failing to make the touchdown catch against Oakland was so significant. And why Miller hopes to make the most of his next opportunity.

"The season hasn't shook out to this point the way we would have liked as a team," Miller said. "When that happens, you look in the mirror as a player and find plays that you wish you could have done better.

"You've got to keep working in practice, keep proving to your teammates, to the coaches, that you're capable of getting the job done. You've got to look forward to the next play and get it done the next time."

11-03-2006, 08:29 AM
I like the way this young kid thinks. Not hiding from the media, not proclaiming some false pretense about what he's been doing this season. Realizing that he can't leave things out on the field, he's got to perform on the field!

11-03-2006, 08:37 AM
Ben almost killed the kid last game. Left a little too much air under that first pass to Miller. I was actually surprised they went back to him after that play. Normally they throw to him once and forget he's still on the roster.


11-03-2006, 08:49 AM
Ben almost killed the kid last game. Left a little too much air under that first pass to Miller. I was actually surprised they back to him after that play. Normally they throw to him once and forget he's still on the roster.


Agreed, 83. Wiz has to find a way to get Heath the ball more often - he proved last season that he can be quite a powerful weapon. They didn't choose him as their #1 pick just to block for God's sake.


11-03-2006, 10:55 AM
Agreed, and I thought that this would be a huge year for Heath. Why waste a 1st round pick on a guy , then not use him?

11-03-2006, 11:56 AM
I've been thinking and posting about this.....if they dont utilize Heath, they wont win.