Film Room: Breaking Down Sean Davis’s Rough Game Against The Ravens

It’s been well known that the performance by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Sean Davis last Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens was a rough one. We will take a closer look at Davis’s play and breakdown what went right and what went bad.

On the first offensive drive for the Ravens, Davis’s night started with a bang. As seen in the picture below on 3rd and 4, the Ravens are in an empty formation. The Steelers come out in a two-high safety look, with Davis over-top of the three receiver side. The Steelers are in Cover 2 which means the two safeties split the field in half over top. Cornerback Mike Hilton will actually be the deep middle/hole player who is responsible for any route in that area.

At the ball snap you will see Davis open up and begin working to get to his zone. He quickly realizes that he doesn’t have a threat to his zone and begins to look for work by squeezing the vertical route in the middle of the field and is able to under cut the route, making the interception. Hilton actually blows his coverage by going too far inside instead of getting depth and covering deep middle leaving Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin open. This was a great heads up play by Davis.

In the second quarter on 2nd and 10 from the Steelers 30-yard-line, the Ravens once again came out in a empty formation only this time a 4-by-1 (4 receivers to one side and 1 receiver to other).  The Steelers call for cover 4 in which Davis’s primary read is the #3 receiver to #2 receiver. If the #3 receiver runs any route over 8 yards he has to take #3.  If #3 runs a short route Davis instantly looks to help on #2.

When the ball is snapped you will see Davis begin his back pedal and turn his head to make his read on #3 receiver. As the play unfolds Davis begins to look at quarterback Joe Flacco and at the same time slow his backpedal as he begins to stand tall, which prevents him from continuing to get depth. Because Davis’s eyes are at the quarterback, he neglects to see his primary read, Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore, who has reached 8 yards and is continuing to go vertical. By the time Davis realizes Moore is running a go route, he is already too late and thus unable to stay over top of the receiver and ultimately allowing the touchdown.

The concerning part watching this play, besides Davis not making his reads, is him neglecting his fundamentals. As a defensive back they constantly work on back pedaling and the transition to opening hips to run with receivers. As you can see in the gif, while back pedaling he begins to stand tall instead of having a bend in the knees with his chest over his toes which slows up his ability to get depth leading towards Moore blowing passed him for the score.

In the third quarter on 2nd and 8, the Steelers are again are in Cover 2, Davis and fellow safety Mike Mitchell are responsible for over top coverage, splitting the field in half.  A safety’s number 1 rule for over top coverage is not letting anyone behind them.  Davis becomes overly aggressive in thinking Mike Wallace was running a curl and tried jumping the route allowing the Ravens wide receiver to get behind him for longest pass play of the game for Baltimore.

From watching it live to reviewing the film it was an rough performance from Davis.  He totaled 3 missed tackles and 30 yards in penalties as well on two unnecessary roughness penalties. Davis has shown at times this season that he can play at a high level and the Steelers will need him to respond in a big way this week versus the Patriots.

About the Author

Jon Dorsey
Jon Dorsey graduated from Stevenson University where he played Division III football and graduated with degree in Business Information Systems. He has coached football for 8 years including 5 years of coaching high school football, 2 years as the Varsity Defensive Coordinator. Jon also completed a coaching internship during training camp with the Cleveland Browns during the 2015 season. He is originally from Maryland and now resides in Charleston, SC.
  • Steel Realist PAul


  • Kevin artis

    That was ugly.

  • pittfan

    On the TD, 4×1 set. At the snap there 3!! pass defenders on the left side of the field, almost 4, for one WR! What’s wrong with that picture?
    3 man rush against a great QB like Brady gives him way too much time to find the open guy, but when you set your D like above, it’s like taking candy from a baby.
    If Davis gets a C-, that defense gets an F.

  • Michael Putman

    He has the physical abilities, its just the mental stuff right now. Hopefully a coach can get his ear and he can get his head straight for the remaining 5 games of the season…

  • StolenUpVotes

    He will be fine. Guy has started a whopping 22 games at SS…….still a young guy growing

  • Shane Mitchell

    Poor football instincts , he cant tackle worth a damn and he will dive out of the way and fall on the turf to avoid taking on any block from an olinemen. He is a joke as a SS and not very good as a cover 2 safety either.

  • nutty32

    At least he stat’d 8 solo and 4 Asst tackles to lead the team to balance his books a tad bit…
    3 burns + 2 penalties ruined what could have been.

  • Steve

    In the 1st Gif, if Flacco throws the ball farther, its a TD.
    but he didn’t and under threw the receiver for a pick.
    Davis and Burns are having the Sophomore Blues.

  • Steve

    Goes to show how weak our DB’s are. Brady is ready to pick us apart.
    Hopefully Ben can have a +500 yard night.

  • Steve

    May have played 22 games, but the last few have been rather weak.

  • Mark

    I hope they drill in him, nobody behind you, nobody behind you. Keep everything in front of you.

  • Shane Mitchell

    They need to sustain drives and put up 7 pts instead of 3 when they get in the redzone. Keep Brady off the field.