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Steelers tight end Miller has torn knee ligaments

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 1:22 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown stands over tight end Heath Miller after he was injured against the Bengals on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, at Heinz Field. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
Christopher Horner
Steelers tight end Heath Miller is helped from the field after he was injured against the Bengals on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, at Heinz Field. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
Christopher Horner
Steelers tight end Heath Miller is injured while blocking for Rashard Mendenhall against the Bengals on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, at Heinz Field. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his weekly news conference Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, on the South Side.

Steelers tight end Heath Miller has a major right knee injury that could sideline him into next season, more devastating injury news for a team that began and now will end a disappointing season with a depleted lineup.

Miller, the likely Steelers most valuable player after making 71 catches, tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during the 13-10 loss Sunday to the Bengals. He also might have injured his posterior cruciate ligament, according to coach Mike Tomlin.

Injuring all three knee ligaments can sideline a player for nine months to a year and sometimes even longer, meaning Miller might not be ready for the start of the 2013 season. The Steelers were not aware of the ACL injury immediately following the Bengals game.

Still, Tomlin declined Monday to blame injuries that have sidelined 16 starters for multiple games — including nearly every one of their marquee players — for what is now the worst season of his six years on the job.

The Steelers (7-8) must beat the Browns (5-10) on Sunday to avoid their first losing season since 2003.

“We just collectively have not made the necessary plays at critical moments to win enough of these close football games,” Tomlin said, pointing to the Steelers' 3-5 record in games decided by three points or fewer.

The Steelers lost only two such games in the 32 they played while going 12-4 each of the past two seasons.

Tomlin conceded a lack of big plays at big moments, a late-season falloff at quarterback play, a lack of third-down conversions and “a myriad” of other factors have pulled down a team that was 6-3 before Ben Roethlisberger was hurt but is 1-5 since then.

Roethlisberger, who appeared to be headed toward the best season of his career before injuring his right shoulder and ribs Nov. 12 against the Chiefs, is 0-3 since returning and has thrown interceptions that led to losses against the Cowboys and Bengals.

Tomlin is unaware of any new or previously undisclosed injuries to Roethlisberger since his return. Tomlin offered no explanation for his franchise quarterback's significant drop-off in play.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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