Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
New Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is certainly making tight end Heath Miller happy. But Miller's goal line success in Week 3 was the result of excellent playcalling.
In this case, Miller was the benefactor of outstanding recognition by offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the subsequent playcalls that got Miller into the end zone.
Miller still scored though. Again. Twice this week.
It wasn't long ago the Steelers struggled greatly in the red zone. Since Haley's arrival, the Steelers have a touchdown percentage off drives in the red zone of 63.61 percent.
They were at 50.91 percent in 2011, and 52.46 in 2010. Granted, the sample size isn't the biggest, but Ben Roethlisberger's two touchdown passes to Miller explain why we can expect these kinds of results all year.
The Steelers have the ball at Oakland's four-yard line on third down. Wide receiver Mike Wallace already had two targets on the drive, and one failed run that went for a yard.
Wallace lines up split to the right, with Miller tight off the right tackle.
Huff is lined up straight over Wallace, and at the snap, he bites on Wallace in-and-up route. Miller slips inside the tackle, and bows right around him to the vacated corner left by Huff and Branch, who paid attention to Wallace.
Wallace sells the route off the break, and bends up in the end zone specifically to drag Huff and Branch into the high part of the zone.
Miller gets the ball on a simple but well-played throw by Roethlisberger, and Wheeler has zero chance of outrunning him to the pylon.
The Steelers ran a play into a 3-on-2 defense, and completed a pass, ran four yards and scored a touchdown without the receiver being touched. That's attributable purely to execution and the right play call.
The Steelers wind up at the same four-yard line, still in the first quarter. Lining up with three tight ends and a running back, the Steelers look like they're going to run.
Roethlisberger is under center with Miller and Paulson twin tight off the right tackle, and Leonard Pope on the line.
Paulson goes in motion, squaring at the B gap, suggesting he's establishing himself as a run blocker. Roethlisberger sees LB Miles Burris following Paulson, indicating the Raiders are in man coverage.
On the snap, Roethlisberger play fakes to running back Jonathan Dwyer, and with it, sucks up LB Rolando McClain from the middle right side. As McClain pursues the line, Miller bodies up Branch - a safety half his size - curls inside and receives a bullet from Roethlisberger, who never needed to look anywhere else.
Roethlisberger had made mention after the game the Steelers ran a few plays in their no-huddle during the second half that were in the team's playbook last season.
If either of these two plays were in the Steelers' playbook last year, they didn't run them often.
Maybe that's why they're well ahead of the curve in terms of touchdowns in the red zone.