Film Room: Steelers Blown Coverage Against Ravens On 30-Yard Touchdown

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense struggled to stop the Baltimore Ravens offense this past Sunday night on their way to allowing 38 points and 261 yards passing, including two passing touchdowns. In our Friday review, we will breakdown what went wrong on Chris Moore’s 30 yards touchdown reception.

On the Ravens first touchdown of the game, Baltimore came out in a 4 x 1 empty set, meaning four receivers to the field side and 1 receiver to the short side. An empty set is commonly used to take advantage of mismatches in coverage as well as force the defense to show their coverage.

The Steelers see the formation and call for a Cover 4 coverage to the 4 receiver side and man coverage on the 1 receiver side.  Steelers safety Mike Mitchell aligns on the bottom hash marks to give the appearance he is helping out cornerback Artie Burns on the one receiver side, although at the snap will instantly open his hips to the 4 receiver side as his responsibility is the deep middle of the field.

As seen in the picture above, cornerback Cameron Sutton’s hips are cocked inside so he can see the number #2 receiver but his primary man is #1. If #1 goes vertical Sutton has to take him. Cornerback Mike Hilton (Nickel) is locked on the #2 WR and will match whatever route he runs. Safety Sean Davis’ primary read is #3 to #2. If the #3 receiver runs any route over 8 yards he has to take him. If #3 runs a short route Davis instantly looks to help on #2 WR. Outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo will open hips to 4-wide receiver side and will look to get underneath any route that comes underneath to middle of the field.

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 Ravens 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. When this happens Davis neglects to see that his primary read, Chris Moore, 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 unable to stay over top of the Ravens wide receiver, allowing the easy touchdown.

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.
  • StrengthOfVictory

    Yes, it’s a blown coverage. But at least I understand this one. Similar to biting on a double move, I expect Davis thought Moore was going to put his foot in the ground and go across the middle or to the outside. He didn’t want to turn his back to the ball and allow an easy completion. He guessed wrong. These will happen now and again, because you won’t always be right.

    To me, the worst blown coverages are when someone “hands off” a receiver to a player who is out of position to make the play, leaving the opposing receiver embarrassingly wide open.

  • Mark

    Sean just needs to play deeper, 12 yards instead of 10, which will help with him breaking on balls and not getting beat by double moves.

  • Mister Wirez

    The Steelers have their best opportunity in a very LONG time beat this Patriots team.

    However, the mistakes at safety, plus Mitchell being in and out of the line up, along with the Joe Haden injury, are killing the Steelers pass coverage. You would think the mistakes would get less as the season goes on, but with rookies and second stringers filling in, it’s gotten worse..

    If Joe Haden plays, the backend of the D should improve substantially. His veteran leadership, coverage, and communication skills will help bigly. I think it will boost the confidence level of the whole DB unit too.

    I’d sleep a lot better knowing Joe was playing.

  • ThatGuy

    Back to back practices is a good sign albeit limited. If he has a full practice today, he’s in good shape.

  • Rob Bayer

    Patriots will run this exact play in hurry up mode.

  • Jon Dorsey

    We will see plent or empty vs pats specially rbs on our linebackers. Big mismatch.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    With you, but he’s a safety, so the coverage deep should always outweigh coverage in front of him. When you say these will happen now and again, that’s really the absolute worst thing that a safety can do, allow anyone behind them.

    Davis and Burns have both had tough years in year two. I hope year three goes the other way lol

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m a little worried about our dbs against Brady. Though, if Cam can be just a step quicker he’ll be there to make some plays on the ball.
    And Davis has to start playing with the smarts that were on his scouting report.

  • jconeoone C

    I love these film room articles, Thanks.

    But don’t you have the field side and boundary-short- side reversed in the sentence below.
    “On the Ravens first touchdown of the game, Baltimore came out in a 4 x 1 empty set, meaning four receivers to the field side and 1 receiver to the short side.”

  • Intense Camel

    I can’t stomach another game like the AFCG. I might sit this one out.

  • Bill

    Do your job Davis. Primary read just toasted you.

  • Mister Wirez

    Sean Davis makes the dumbest plays and not just in coverage, but also his poor tackling and horrendous penalties at the worst possible times. I remember at least 2 personal fouls on him against Baltimore last week alone for not thinking…

    It’s as if he graduated from “The Mike Mitchell Summer School for Chuckle Head Safetys”.

    Come on Sean, WAKE THE F -UP!

  • Mister Wirez

    Did Haden practice today? Limited again?

  • Paul Rainey

    Great post.

  • Ring4Shaz

    I try not to get ticked off at DBs anymore, not worth the trouble under current NFL pass defense rules. If they stay in tight coverage, they’re just as likely to get a phantom PI penalty as to make a play. Hopefully he learns from it and doesn’t make the same mistake this week. Doesn’t mean the play wouldn’t have ended in a TD or first-and-goal at the 1 yard line regardless.

    Best defense against the deep ball is not allowing Flacco a clean pocket after 3 seconds. Failed pretty badly on that point. Not sure why you’ve got TJ Watt roaming around in coverage of no one on that play. Could have rushed the passer without affecting the pass defense at all.

  • Dshoff

    If Haden plays, the Pats will burn him deep. He was getting beaten with that when he was healthy. They will go at him early and often. I just hope Haden is 100% if he comes back.

  • Dshoff

    Who had the stupid facemask penalty against the Cowboys at the end of the game? I seriously can’t remember but it was a secondary guy.

  • Dshoff

    I’m wondering if its time to make pass interference penalties just 15 yarders instead of for the full yardage like in college. These penalties are just too devastating, and when it’s such a close call and they give the offense like 50 yards, that’s hard to stomach.

  • Kenny lee

    Let Hayden play in the red zone and Ben call the plays

  • Kenny lee

    I honesty believe it would help the Steelers to hire Bryant miccfadden as an defensive assis