Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Matt Spaeth: Remembering Underappreciated Pittsburgh Steelers

By: Connor Deitrich | March 30, 2020

Remembering underappreciated Steelers is a new series where we will give praise to some of the forgotten or underappreciated Steelers players in recent years. Some of these guys definitely didn’t stuff the stat sheet, but they played their role and played it well. The first installment is Matt Spaeth.
Matt Spaeth isn’t a player that most non-Pittsburgh Steelers fans around the league will remember. The tight end spent seven of his nine seasons in the black and gold (playing the other two for the Chicago Bears). Spaeth wasn’t the kind of tight end that gets love from the media or most fans. He wasn’t much a receiver, but he was a great run blocker. He embraced his role and performed very well at it.

Remembering Matt Spaeth

In the 2007 NFL draft, the Steelers selected Matt Spaeth in the third round with the 77th overall pick. Spaeth was coming off an All-American, Mackey Award-winning season at Minnesota. He only recorded five catches on six targets in his rookie season for 34 total yards. Three of his five receptions went for touchdowns, though, and another for a first down. That’s the kind of player Spaeth would be his whole career. He never racked up many yards per reception, but he was reliable in goal-line or short-yardage passing situations. In fact, ten of his 55 career receptions were touchdowns and an additional 15 were for first downs. Almost half of his career receptions resulted in points or moved the chains.
The most memorable moment of Matt Spaeth’s career (other than becoming a Super Bowl champion) came against the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. In that game, Ben Roethlisberger set an NFL record by throwing 12 touchdown passes in a two-game span. Spaeth was on the receiving end of the record-setting 12th touchdown. Not only was he part of Roethlisberger’s record, but it was the longest reception of Spaeth’s career. On 4th and 2 with under two minutes to go, the Steelers came out in a running formation. Instead, they ran play-action and Roethlisberger found Spaeth streaking behind the defense for a 33-yard touchdown. It was Spaeth’s longest career reception by 20 yards and it was great to see how happy his teammates were for him (and Roethlisberger, of course) following the score.
Playing alongside Heath Miller, it’s no wonder why Matt Spaeth never got tons of recognition. Everyone in Steelers nation loved Miller and still do, years after his retirement. It’s especially hard to get recognition as a tight end whose only real role is to block. Spaeth worked hard, did his job, and did it well. He was respected in the locker room and a Super Bowl champion. For all of those reasons, it’s important to remember Matt Spaeth and the role he played as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

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