LANDOVER, Md. — Russell Wilson isn’t ignoring tight end Zach Miller, it just sometimes takes him a while to sort through his options before finding him.
But when the outside receivers are covered and the pocket gets pinched, Wilson looks for Miller to bail him out.
In the Seattle Seahawks’ 24-14 wild-card playoff win over Washington on Sunday, Miller made four catches for 48 yards.
And they were all timely. Two converted third-and-long situations after the intended plays had broken down. Another converted a fourth-and-1, and his fourth catch was a two-point conversion that gave the Seahawks some breathing room in the fourth quarter.
“He came up huge tonight once again,” Wilson said of Miller. “He does a great job of catching the football. He does a great job of blocking.”
On Miller’s 22-yard catch that kept alive the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, he was assigned to block at the line of scrimmage.
“They were giving us a funny look on defense,” Miller said. “And I was in protection. If my guy doesn’t (rush), I can get out in a pattern.”
Wilson, meanwhile, had his initial attention elsewhere.
“I went through my whole progression and he was my last read,” Wilson said. “And he came through for me; he did a great job of making a big-time catch and making the first down.”
On his first third-down catch, Miller came up with one of a receiver’s toughest challenges, pulling in a ball at his shoe tops when his momentum was taking him away from the ball.
“The big play when Russell scoots out and dumps it to him on the touchdown drive was just a marvelous job of Zach coming through,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The other one, catching it about two inches off the ground … Zach just continues to do cool stuff.”
Miller’s been more of a focus for the passing game this season, with his 38 regular-season catches easily exceeding the 25 he had the previous season when he was often asked to stay at the line and help with protection.
Against Washington, his involvement on third downs were part of the game plan.
“We knew they got pretty soft on third-and-long, and we could find something open,” Miller said. “It was a matter of (Wilson) making plays with his feet and finding me and getting the ball out when he needed to and checking down for the first down.”
Miller said that Seattle receivers have to stay ever vigilant because Wilson can break away from the pass rush at any time.
“He’s always calm and collected,” Miller said. “He always forgets if something (bad) happened before. He never lets mistakes linger; he’s always moving on to the next play.”Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@ thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling