Pitta’s Cleve­land trip ends bet­ter this time

Tight end stands out where he suf­fered his 2nd bro­ken hip

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - By Jeff Zre­biec

CLEVE­LAND — Ravens tight end Den­nis Pitta took stock of his shape and con­ceded the ob­vi­ous.

“There are aches and there’s pain,” Pitta said af­ter the Ravens’ 25-20 vic­tory Sun­day over the Cleve­land Browns. “I’m go­ing to be sore to­mor­row, but that’s just the grind of the sea­son.”

It also beats the al­ter­na­tive. Pitta’s last trip to the Browns’ sta­dium on Sept. 21, 2014, ended with the tight end on a cart pon­der­ing the po­ten­tial end of his ca­reer. It was that day that Pitta frac­tured and dis­lo­cated his right hip for the sec­ond time in a lit­tle more than a year.

Lead­ing up to Sun­day’s game, Pitta, 31, said he had long moved on from the in­jury and didn’t have any men­tal or phys­i­cal hur­dles to over­come. That was made clear Sun­day as Pitta, repris­ing his role as Joe Flacco’s fa­vorite tar­get on third down, helped lift the Ravens out of a 20-2 hole with key catch af­ter key catch.

Pitta punc­tu­ated his re­turn to Cleve­land with a game-high nine catches for 102 yards — the sec­ond 100-yard game of his ca­reer.

“I see what Den­nis is do­ing and, man, I’m in­spired,” Ravens wide re­ceiver Steve Smith Sr. said. “It’s great to play with a guy like that. To see how he’s play­ing af­ter what he went through, and see­ing him shifty, and be­ing the old Den­nis, it’s fan­tas­tic.”

It cer­tainly looked like old times Sun­day when Flacco looked in the di­rec­tion of his close friend any­time the Ravens needed a first down. Four of Pitta’s nine catches and 56 of his 102 re­ceiv­ing yards came on third-down con­ver­sions.

“If he was com­ing back, I knew he would be pro­duc­tive,” Flacco said. “Last year, when he came back for a cou­ple of weeks of prac­tice and they de­cided to not have him play, he looked good. He looked like him­self. I think he’s go­ing to get more and more com­fort­able as the year goes on. We just have to keep him healthy.”

When train­ing camp be­gan, the out­side be­lief was that any­thing the Ravens could get from Pitta would be a bonus. In the past three sea­sons, he had played seven to­tal games. He prac­ticed with the team for a three-week win­dow last year, but he ul­ti­mately didn’t do enough to con­vince

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Ravens tight end Den­nis Pitta makes a catch in the sec­ond quar­ter. Pitta fin­ished with a game-high nine catches for 102 yards — the sec­ond 100-yard game of his ca­reer.

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