Second-round draft pick Sean Davis was just awarded the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie of the year award, so it is probably fitting that we do a film room of the starting safety’s most recent performance against the Ravens, which included, as we brought to you a couple of days ago, a literal touchdown-saving play early in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps that helped to feed the momentum of the offense’s highly successful showing in the fourth quarter, producing three touchdown drives, including a pair of go-ahead scores. I do think that Davis was deserving of the rookie of the year award, and would have been my selection, based purely on the on-field product, though, as I said yesterday, all three of their rookie starters would have been very deserving, and I wouldn’t have argued.
Not all big plays are bad plays for any specific defender. That was the case for Davis late in the first quarter when the Ravens rattled off a 23-yard end-around for wide receiver Michael Campanaro. The edge defenders should have been queued on to the play because they have been running it, and Campanaro was uncharacteristically lined up as a halfback.
But once James Harrison let him go, there wasn’t a whole lot Davis could do. He smartly didn’t take the inside angle with the left tackle coming out to block on the move, because he would have never gotten to the fast receiver in time. Instead, he played the angle and limited the damage. Otherwise it could have been a lot worse.
One aspect of his game that has been encouraging in its development during his rookie season has been his run fills. He did a nice job of cleaning up Kenneth Dixon through the hole early in the second half up the middle, which is saying something considering he forced several missed tackles on the day.
It was, as mentioned, early in the fourth quarter when Davis made his biggest play of the game. With the Ravens facing third and three from the four, the tight end ran away from him to the sideline on what initially looked like a touchdown. one of the sideline replays showed, however, what happened: Davis ripped the ball out.
On the first play of the Ravens’ final scoring drive, after the Steelers had just gone ahead, the safety showed off his coverage skills, blanketing the running back Dixon underneath and preventing him from catching the pass. In fact, the ball got popped up in the air and was nearly in position to be intercepted. The final several minutes of the game certainly would have gone differently had that happened.
I do think that Davis’s on-field performance from the beginning of the season to the end of the year most merited the rookie of the year award. He had some issues while working in the slot, but over the past half of the season, he has been very solid in his new role—and one that he will ideally hold for many years to come.