Stat Sheet Doesn’t Tell Ugly Tale Of Sean Davis’ Night

Considering how the night started, it sure didn’t turn out to be Sean Davis’ day, did it? The Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting strong safety ended the Baltimore Ravens’ opening drive with an interception that he returned 35 yards to the 41-yard line from the red zone, but the game was pretty much downhill from there.

Though he posted a team-high—and career-high—12 tackles, while nobody else had more than seven, it was a sloppy and maddening performance from the second-year safety, whose play has been something of a seesaw through much of the year. He has saved a few touchdowns, but also allowed a few in turn.

The gravest concern, however, is what doesn’t turn up in the stat sheet, and that is the missed tackles. Davis has become among the worst offenders in this department on the defense, and, consequently, in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, he leads all safeties with 16 missed tackles, split evenly between the passing game and the running game. His tackling efficiency ranks 64th among 67 eligible safeties in their data, which, suffice it to say, is pretty awful.

On the opening defensive drive, he blew up a second-down screen pass for a loss of a yard to force an early third and long, and then several plays later ended the drive with the aforementioned interception. That was about as good as it would get.

Late in the game, during the final 20 minutes, he recorded two separate unnecessary roughness penalties that helped the Ravens convert drives into touchdowns. On the first drive, he shoved the running back hard out of bounds at the end of a 21-yard run that drew a penalty, which tacked on another 15 yards, putting them on the Steelers’ 37.

Later on, during a two-point game, after a 40-yard kick return out to the 44-yard line, Davis was flagged again for unnecessary roughness on an incomplete pass that put the Ravens on the Steelers’ 41-yard line. He later recorded two tackles on the drive on plays that were successful runs for the offense, one of which came right before he missed a tackle on a nine-yard touchdown run.

It was an ugly enough performance that there was unrest among the natives, who weighed the reasonableness of benching him in favor of Robert Golden, who was the only other safety they dressed aside from Mike Mitchell. He clearly needs a mental reset ahead of the next game.

On the season, Davis now has 75 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble during his first full season as a starter. Some of it has been pretty; much of it has not. Last night was a bit of the former and a bunch of the latter, at least upon first blush. He certainly can’t play that way next week.

About the Author

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

    I thought he was supposed to be a high intelligence guy. Speaking Chinese and all. It sure didn’t translate between the lines last night.

  • Nicholas

    An emotional win to boost #50’s spirits. God Bless Ryan Shazier for a complete recovery.

    A bit off topic, but, does this team need ANY MORE distractions than it has already endured this season?
    Listening to Collinsworthless is becoming even more of a hardship, but, how many of you wanted to smash the TV when a sideline reporter started digging up dirt concerning Deebo’s lack of playing time? I mean, get real. Are there not any more newsworthy items to go over? She started saying stuff about Deebo being upset about his playing time and how, had he known this season would be as it is, would have never signed his contract. The fake news monster rears its ugly head.

  • Jaybird

    What is “fake ” about that story? Deebo did say exactly that. It was even reported here on the Depot. You may not have liked the story or the timing of it, but why are you calling it “fake” when it is absolutely true?

  • GravityWon

    All true. But at least he made some plays. Whereas Dupree seemed completely absent.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Yeah I don’t understand your gripe at all Nicholas. It was reported by Michelle Tafoya earlier on Sunday and being as she is their sideline reporter of course it was going to come up and naturally so. There was nothing fake about it.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I don’t want this to be a hingsight post but more just generally curious because I haven’t followed it much, but how has Keanu Neal been playing? I remember I had wanted him over Davis but they took Davis.

    In fairness to Davis I thought the second personal fould penalty was ticky tack by the refs. It is a call where you have to have a good read on the game. Had it been a heated game up to that point like the Bengals game you absolutely call it and assume he had bad intentions. In this case he had no reason to slam Watson other than the fact that he thought he still had the ball in which case you keep your flag in your pants. I believe Tomlin was thinking the same thing. Just can’t call that when the game is so close and you give the Ravens 15 free yards.

  • Kevin artis

    Everyone had a bad day on defense maybe except for Watt.

    Is Bud Dupree turning into “Jarvis Jones”?

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Neal was off the board before they picked Artie in the 1st. Davis was taken in the 2nd. Not sure about Neal’s play this year. It was certainly good last year.

  • Ed Smith

    He’s already there… or not there (doing anything on he field). We’ll be drafting an OLB along with ILB and Safety in the first 3 rounds next Spring… hopefully Ben finishes his contract!

  • EdJHJr

    At times it looks like I can catch a pass against this team

  • Jim McCarley

    When our teams doe well, they are great. When they do poorly, they suck…..Does it ever occur to fans that there is another team on the field and they may play poorly or very well and THAT may be part of how our team plays…Bell can juke and run over defensive players and that makes him great, but maybe the defensive players on the opposition had a bad night…..maybe the Ravens walked in last night thinking that they would give their best effort and they did just that….missed tackles come from poor angles and techniques, BUT, it does also happen when the ball carrier makes a better move than the defender or is just difficult to get down…it does not mean our guys are bad, imo. Now the play where Davis just ran over to the sideline and quit on the play and it resulted in like a 30 yard run down the sideline, now THAT was BS….he also needs a good talking to about biting on plays….but he is still young.

  • steelburg

    Davis in these last 2 years that I have seen him has proven himself IMO to be more of a FS. So them playing him around the line of scrimmage doesn’t help him a ton in the tackling department. But he does need to improve thay part of his game. Although he had some bad moments last night the guy played with heart and passion and I can live with that. For all the mistakes he made last night he also had some good plays like the INT. Take away his INT and we lose this game. Davis is still a young player who will get better over time.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    I was high on Davis when we took him. I’m still of the belief that he CAN be an excellent player for us. Last night was the worst game I’ve seen him play at the safety position. There’s no nice way to say it… He was awful. He needs to improve his tackling. Why can’t somebody get this guy to wrap up?! And he’s not the only one. Mike Mitchell, Ryan Shazier and a few other guys on this defense are big proponents of ‘the flying shoulder.’ It’s got to be cleaned up. New England is going to throw short passes and look for YAC. And believe me, they won’t go down if you don’t wrap them up and take them to the turf.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    You are right I had the wrong name. I was thinking of Vonn Bell.

    Edited my original post.

  • steelburg

    It’s not looking good for Bud IMO. He isn’t bad in coverage dropping into the flats. But he isn’t developing at all from a pass rushing stand point. If the team wants to upgrade this defense in a short period of time all it will take is to slide Harrison into the starting line up, bump Watt over to Dupree’s spot, and add Haden from injury and please just play Fort at ILB because the Moats experiment did not work.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Ahhh. Bell is pretty good. He’s getting a lot of PT for that improved Saints D. He is, however, a free safety. I don’t know that he could play SS. Id gladly trade him for Mitchell, tho. Haha

  • ryan72384

    Yep Sean was bad last night. I still have high hopes for him though because he does make some big plays. The penalties are more frustrating than anything to me. As bad as the defense played the Ravens were aided by some bad calls. I thought Artie played a decent game and that PI call on him late covering Wallace that gift wrapped a Ravens score was complete trash. It was good coverage.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Yeah I thought he was an FS but that is what I had wanted at the time anyway. Thought every guy we had was better suited to SS. Mitchell, Golden, and Dangerfield being the guys at the time IIRC.

    So would have taken Bell to go to FS and moved Mitchell to SS or put Golden there.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Why are they so reluctant to play Fort? Makes no sense to me

  • falconsaftey43

    Wasn’t a great game by him. I will say that that one UNR call was kinda BS, he didn’t know the guy dropped it and it appear he let up once he flipped him over instead of slamming his head into the ground. Also, I’m not going to knock a safety for making a tackle on a “successful” play. Usually that’s still a good thing, because if the safety misses that tackle, it’s an explosive play (as we saw all to often).

  • Joe6606

    Sometimes questions shouldn’t be asked. After the season? Fine. But honestly does anyone think he’s happy at not playing? I just don’t see any point in asking the question and then publishing the response other news

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Yeah, I won’t go into it much on ‘Steelers win Monday’, but I don’t think the Steelers did quite as well as it looked last year with Davis and Burns picks.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Agreed, that was NOT pass interference – and that play caused me to wonder about the goals of the officiating team.

  • John Franks

    I feel dumb asking this question, but I went back and looked at this play and the ball landed outside the white stripe out of bounds. I was under the impression DPI was waved off if the ball was not catchable, is that no longer the case? Was it an optical illusion on TV?

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I think a lot of people are right with you but the good thing is I think years 3 and 4 are the real markers. So lets see if this is just the ol’ sophomore slump.

  • Jaybird

    You may not like the question but that doesn’t make it fake and that’s my point. After Eli was benched for the Giants the same questions were asked. Ben was asked tough questions after his 5 INT game . The Chiefs had tough questions after there recent collapse. It gets pretty boring if reporters are only asking ” lollipop” questions and not addressing the tough ones. The elephant in the The room with Harrison is the fact that he’s not playing – why not report on it? We talk about every single day here on the Depot. Without fail!

  • Zarbor

    I agree. Davis was terrible but he made some plays. Dupree had one tackle the whole game playing OLB. The Ravens ran to his side most of the night because he couldn’t set the edge nor help stop the run. He never sniffed the QB in his feeble pass rush attempts.

  • steelburg

    I can’t understand it either. Moats was awful playing in the middle last night. I can’t say that I blame Moats he has played OLB the last 4 years. Fort has lead the team in tackling the last 2 years in the preseason and I can’t imagine he would be any worse then Moats/Spence was last night. I mean I knew Shazier was good, but last night I realized that how good beacuse we badly missed his sideline to sideline tackling.

  • The thing about Fort is he has some speed which Spence and Moats do not. Obviously not 50’s speed but more than Moats and Spence for sure. They missed that side line to side line speed last night dearly.

  • Kevin artis

    I don’t think the Moats or Spence experiment worked but I’ll give the latter a pass since he was on the couch last week.

  • good point, usually if the safety makes the tackle on a successful run than the front 7 didn’t do their job correctly on the particular play.

  • ryan72384

    I don’t know for sure but either way it was perfect coverage by Artie. He had good position. Wasn’t holding. He just had Wallace pinned to the sideline. Artie played good last night and as frustrating as he is at times I still love his fight, fire and aggressiveness. Has a short memory too. Getting burned doesn’t break his will or confidence. He needs to make more plays though and I feel like on the almost pick in the end zone he needs to attack that ball and high point it instead of waiting for it to come to him. That gave Wallace the chance to knock it away. Haden would have gone up and snagged it out of the air. That is a play Artie HAS to make in my opinion. We are an opportunistic defense. Sacks and splash plays are the only thing that’s going to keep the defense afloat.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i think it is because last year mitchell was getting out of position to cover them. but mitchell has his own hands full this year and doesnt have time to protect them anymore.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    come on man i rewound that play at least a dozen times. he can clearly see the ball was going by. that body slam was just stupid.

  • steelburg

    I 100 percent agree.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    the thing about spence is that spence always had good form but lack of speed post knee injury. shazier had speed but no form. once spence gets back to speed he will be fine. he hadnt played in 2 months.

  • steelburg

    I agree.

  • Intense Camel

    Yup, as far as what we have left, he is the closest thing to shazier. He should be the starter.

  • Do you have a machine that can see through the eyes of others? How can you possibly know exactly what he saw?

  • Gloria Burke

    Agree on the refs. I was completely confused by the intent of the penalty calling ALL game long. There was not much parity. I completely disagree with the UNR call on Burns. There is very little chance that he could tell in that moment if the TE caught the ball or not. And he didn’t slam him into the ground. The call on Burns was equally baffling. Not catchable, not really a lot of contact. By the end, the players on both teams were looking for calls (AB in the end zone, Mitchell on the sideline, Maklin on his no catch) because the flags had been so plentiful for more or less the same type of plays (think about Touissant being flung further out of bounds after he had already stepped out vs. Davis’ shove) I understand the entire day of NFL officiating was a roller coaster of horrors. Good job, Roger! Flummoxed. Completely.

  • Ralph Wagner

    I question the desire, and the I want to the best of some of these players. Just going through the motions isn’t getting it done. They like to bask in the glory but not make the tackles. They just aren’t doing their job. If a championship is to be attained they had better start playing NOW,

    To quote a successful coach, “Do your job”

    Go Steelers!

  • Chad Weiss

    Same last week even worse against Titans and colts

  • Mark

    Davis has to play smarter, period. Our entire teams needs to improve tackling, their penchant for not wrapping or going for ankle tackles is crazy. However, where was Tuitt, Cam, Hargrave, Walton? Yes Bud is a culprit, however, our down lineman did little or nothing to impact the Ravens run or passing game. They were getting blown off the ball.

  • Michael James

    I’m not really that concerned about this one horrible game from Davis tbh. He’s still pretty raw, but overall he has played well after a bit of a slow start this season. Then yesterday happened.
    I’m much more concerned (and a bit upset) about Dupree not developing one bit as a pass-rusher.

  • gentry_gee

    Davis and Burns are both awful players.

  • Jones

    The first unnecessary roughness penalty was dumb, but the second didn’t bother me. From his angle, Davis likely thought the pass was complete, in which case it wouldn’t have been a flag. I won’t say it should’ve been a no call, but I’d rather see him finishing a play than missing a tackle.

  • ThePointe

    Trying to make up for the loss of the teams fastest linebacker will create nerves for any strong safety. 12 tackles for a SS and he missed a bunch to boot? This tells me the second level of the defense was practically non existent. Can’t put all of Davis struggles on Davis alone.

  • k33ger

    The refs seemed to forget the ball has to be catchable for DPI.

    on the play by Burns, that ball was far behind both the CB and the WR.

    This worked in our favor on the DPI call on Bryant in the end zone, the ball was thrown way behind him, and even though the CB was holding/interfering him, he wouldn’t have been able to catch it anyway.

    Both of those plays could have qualified for Defensive holding. Which would have been a 5 yard penalty on Burns.

    Course, the refs last night were clearly watching a different game. maybe a game in their minds…

  • T3xassteelers

    Is it just me or all 3 of the trio of draft picks having a sophomore slump? Burns and Davis are obviously not performing as well as we’d like but I haven’t even noticed Gravedigger this year asides from a few plays. Maybe it’s just because they don’t use that position much??

  • Mister Wirez

    I think Davis might be a little mentally challenged or at the very least, he may have a learning disability. Seriously, who continues to do these things repeatedly this deep in their second season -because smart players just don’t do this stuff repeatedly. His actions continue to put the team and season in bad situations. He still takes horrible penalties, many times he’s out of position and/or shows bad tackling form.

    EVERYONE knows the refs will flag anything that looks slightly egregious. Mike Tomlin needs to “unleash hell” on this defense with another physical padded practice focusing on open field tackling, run containment, and overall game awareness.

    Wake up Sean

  • nutty32

    Too harsh? The penalties were dumb but he had some nice run stops along with the gaffes. Was thinking his play was generally treading up the last 6 weeks after a slow start.

  • nutty32

    Dupree has been a major bummer. Non factor against the run and pass. He doesn’t even look like he’s that interested in playing football, either. Jarvis Jones was another non-factor, but at least he hustled his butt off while not making plays. Bud Dupree is hands down the biggest disappointment of the year.

  • nutty32

    Artie definitely has some cover skills talent. He just needs to work on everything else & stop being a typical swaggy idiot, at least until he becomes all-pro first.

  • Maybe the Ravens speak Cantonese and he speaks Mandarin?

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Nice play. His head was up his arse last night…all but 2 pretty big plays

  • #beatthepats

    Lets be honest , dupree is jarvis jones with more speed.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Not fake but at 11-2 somewhat inconsequential. A little editorial censorship I’m sure cause I’m wondering how the questions were posed and what the context was.

  • Jeffrey Rescigno

    if you noticed the last play of the game Watt was on one outside linebacker position and Deebo was on the other. I kind of like that

  • Woodsworld

    I could have a 100 yard receiving game against this defense, just let me put my remote control down first 😉

  • Darth Blount 47

    I just don’t feel as though he and Mitchell compliment themselves well enough. I’ve seen some growth out of Davis this year, which has been good. That Personal Foul penalty on the RB was hogwash. The other, was asinine (by Davis), and it really cost us and Davis knows better than to act like that.

    Davis is a bit maddening. I see the potential but he’s not putting it all together. And we’d be so much better back there right now if he were. As a 2nd year guy though, I cut him some slack. If he grows more next year and gets a partner back there he can jive with, things will likely be a lot better. I’m not trashing Mitchell, but Mitchell’s contract makes it hard to see us paying him again.

    One thing is for certain, we need the physicality that Davis can bring when he is right, but my Lord we need to avoid having it all come down to him to stop a play, when he is wrong. Next week is going to be an amazing test for this Secondary.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Gravedigger has played solidly when given his opportunities. The D-Line has more often than not, been dominating. There’s a reason we have the 2nd most sacks in the league. Burns and Davis are indeed experiencing “growing pains.” Are they slumping? Well, that depends on perspective and expectation, I’d say.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I said the same thing at the time. UNCATCHABLE.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I wanted Bell as well. That year in the draft contest, I believe I had us taking Bell as either my 1st or 2nd pick on that 2nd round line. I’ve been quietly following his career ever since. He’s been playing well, but for whatever reason, they’ve been a bit hesitant to totally unleash him as the guy. A couple of Saints articles regard him as a real emerging weapon, but will go on to say that the Saints have been reluctant to expand his overall role.

    Side note: His birthday is tomorrow. Lol.

  • John Pennington

    Davis needs to watch more film and get in his playbook.How can you not know who to cover and always out of position this late in the season.The same with Burns.Next week they go up against the best qb in the league and he will tear them both a new one if they dont understand the coverage their in and their job.Tackling has to be better.The secondary is in trouble if they dont change their ways by Sunday.The world will be watching and you will be judged by evening.

  • MikeWest

    Honestly, as probably the next most athletic, fast, AND physical guy behind Ryan (that plays near the LOS) I think Sean was tasked with being the disruptor in his absence. He was flying around like a wild man, setting the tone with his intensity. Unfortunately, that came at a cost on a number of play (sideline play, body slam, etc.), but that has as more to do with margin on those plays than him not using his head; kid was playing through the whistle. Even with all that I’d rather have a guy dialed up than play lifeless like Dupree.

  • John Pennington

    The question is how long will Dangerfield sit on the practice squad and Davis poor play continues to start.Sometimes you have to sit a player down and Davis and Burns both need to be on the bench.And if Dupree cant figure it out bench him to.Time to take a stand against these under achieving players and take away their starting positions.Next man up after Sunday we will all know the truth about these players.

  • francesco

    Davis had a bad game but I’m more worried about ABurns.

  • Lucious Myers

    I see a lot deep pass going over davis head this week.

  • LucasY59

    I thought Davis was trying too hard to make up for the loss of Shazier, and honestly he might be the only guy who can make some of the plays Ryan does, the 1st series I was really excited to see him step up, but like I said I think it got in his head (along with it being the rivalry game following the hate game the previous week)

    I will give him a pass this week (because of the 1st series as well as the 12 tackles…the ILBs have to be playing pretty bad for the guy behind them to be cleaning up all that they missed)

    really hope that after two emotionally driven games they can focus on the big goal (beating the pats/#1 seed and home field are key to getting to the SB) so I expect the Secondary especially to come out and play a game where they are part of the reason the get the W instead of a L (like it was last yr with shady picking them apart)

  • LucasY59

    I really like that TJ is able to move around and line up at different spots, impressive for a rookie