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.