Film Room: Sean Davis Delivers Impact Play

I wrote last week that I wouldn’t be too broken up if the Pittsburgh Steelers toyed with the idea of benching second-year starting strong safety Sean Davis. The former second-round pick was having issues in both coverage and run support, and while he made the occasional play, I felt he was hurting the defense.

Sunday’s showing was much better from him, featuring arguably the greatest play of his young career that quite literally saved a touchdown—and it wasn’t the first time that he has saved a touchdown, either.

I just talked about this play earlier today relative to rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt, and how his penetration helped to set up the play in spite of the fact that he ended up missing the tackle, but it was, of course, Davis who did make the tackle, doing a nice job of staying aggressive on the back side of the run and working down the line while eying a possible cutback attempt.

They had him up in the box two plays later in their dime defense, albeit on third and one, playing a linebacker role in an obvious running situation. Though the Chiefs were able to convert, Davis executed his assignment, and at least held the play to three yards.

He was also more aggressive in coverage, reacting quickly to a Kareem Hunt reception out in the flat late in the third quarter. He broke on the play with such rapidity and speed that the wide receiver didn’t even have time to get his head around before he was being tackled at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

The play of the day, of course, was his, the Chiefs nearly scoring a touchdown on fourth down from the four-yard line. The receiver did make the catch, but the second-year safety did a fantastic job of playing the pocket and ripping the ball loose. He nearly came down with what would have been ruled an interception, which would have put the ball on the 20-yard line instead of the four.

Tight end Travis Kelce did get the better of him once in the game in the middle of the third quarter, the Pro Bowler able to separate from him on a corner route on third and 10, picking up 10 yards to move the chains.

It was overall a much more solid effort from Davis than we had seen this season, which I for one take as a pleasant development. That play in the end zone alone was critical, and secured the margin of victory. But they still need more splash plays from him, and a tightening of his consistency from play to play.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Stairway7

    So if they benched Davis who do you start?

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Yeah, I think Davis and Burns will be on the team for a long time, although neither is likely as great as we rated them after their rookie season. You’d expect a significant jump in year 2, mostly because the head coach says that, but we’ve all seen that happen as well for second year guys.

    So far, I’d say each have taken a step back in some areas, though perhaps the DC is opening up the D more so they’re still learning new sets and plays. We’ll see where they are by years end. Nice to see Davis get back into form some this past week.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Like I said in the past, let the kid develop. Troy wasn’t Troy until his 2nd/3rd season. Not saying Davis will ever be Troy, but just let him develop.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Davis has now denied them TDs over the last 2 games. Either could’ve changed the outcome of the games. Both were great plays. Hopefully he and Burns continue to improve as this season rolls along. We have had a tendency to start slow and finish strong over the last 4-5 years. If our Run D cleans everything up and these 2 young guys play well, look out.

  • Nathanael Dory

    Still think he should play FS instead of Mitchell

  • David Shoff

    Davis played well and with confidence. Let’s hope he can carry that confidence into future games. Sometimes one good game can really get a guy going. I remember a couple of touchdown passes just like that one where Davis was just a step short of making the play. Now he made the play! I remember in polo’s first year when he was always just a step behind but you could see that the potential was there. Let’s hope Davis is getting there.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Thank you William for your voice of reason.

    People forget that Sean Davis played multiple positions in college. And as soon as he got to Pittsburgh we had him play multiple positions here as well. How about we give him a year or two learning ONE position and then evaluate him?

    Antonio Brown made a ton of bonehead plays his first two years. And yet we had patience with him. Ryan Shazier misses more tackles than anyone on the team BY FAR, and nobody is talking about benching him. Why is that?… It’s because he also makes splash plays.

    Well guess what… Davis makes splash plays too. He’s 3rd on the team with 24 solo tackles. Almost double that of Mike Mitchell. And he’s only getting better.

  • TMP_22903

    Based on his play during the second half of last season, Sean Davis was one of our players I was most excited about all offseason long. (Actually, several defenders fit that description … ) I thought he was going to have a breakout season, but I guess a little more patience is still in order to see what we really have with him.

    In addition to the TD-saving plays he made on Sunday and his previous effort against KC, remember that SD also broke up a touchdown against the Ravens TE last December. Similar in that their TE initially caught the pass in the corner of the end zone, but Davis was in position to dive in there and immediately knock the ball out to prevent the score.

    It was a critical play that allowed us to complete the comeback in the second half. And it quite literally saved our season – AFC North title and playoff berth.

    I think we have a promising young playmaker in Sean Davis … and I think over time we’ll see way more ups than downs.

  • RMSteeler

    Dirty Red got the ball at high point but strong hands by TE. The play he hurt his left shoulder. Hope it’s just a strain and not a small cuff tear.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Wilcox. Not that I would have been happy with either the way they were playing. Let’s just say I was relieved to see Davis play better Sunday.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers did bench Shazier in his rookie season.

  • Matthew Marczi

    There really isn’t a great distinction between the two positions in the Steelers’ system.

  • Nathanael Dory

    True. but their initial position is still different

  • MC

    Bud Dupree and Davis were the ones I thought would be taking the biggest steps this season. Hopefully they prove me right as there is plenty of season left.