The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Denver Broncos on Sunday 31-19 in a game that could be called a tale of two halves. The Steelers defense, once considered one of the best in the NFL got picked apart in the second half and struggled to stop Peyton Manning for the final 30 minutes of the game. But even in a loss we have to consider who the best player on offense and defense were for the Steelers.
Offense-Heath Miller, tight end. I didn’t select miller just to toot my own horn, but Steelers fans everywhere had to feel pretty good to see Miller so involved in the offense. Miller finished the game with 4 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, but in the replay, you saw on at least 4 more occasions Miller was open but pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was under too much duress to get him the football.
Miller was taking full ownership of the middle of the field, and I continued to be amazed at how the Broncos defense did not feel they needed to cover the largest receiving target on the field. Moving forward this gives opposing defenses one more thing to scheme for and leaves a personnel package on the field that can run or pass with effectiveness.
Defense-Larry Foote, linebacker. I’ve covered the Steelers for a long time. Never in all those years did I think I’d be writing something like this about Foote. In a game where the Steelers were short-handed, I expected guys like LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons to step up, but it was Foote. He finished the game with 8 total tackles, a sack and a pass defended to pace all Steelers defenders. I give credit where it’s due and Foote did his part to keep the Steelers in the game.
Next week when I do this, I honestly hope that I see some new names here and some spectacular performances. As much as I love seeing Foote and Miller tops this week, if next week it’s running back Johnathan Dwyer and safety Troy Polamalu, I will feel better that it means this team won.
Who are your players of the week? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me hear it.