Pitta plays vital role in Ravens’ comeback win
— When the Baltimore Ravens needed a thirddown conversion, Joe Flacco often looked to his old go-to target Sunday.
Three times he hit tight end Dennis Pitta to move the chains on third down. Pitta caught nine total passes for 102 yards receiving – the second-most for a single game in his career.
It was a far different cry than the last time Pitta played against the Browns in FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Last time I was here, I didn’t get to go home with everybody,” he said. “Fortunately, this time, I do. It’s going to be a lot more fun this time around.”
Almost two years to the day earlier, Pitta fractured and dislocated his hip in Cleveland. It was the second time in as many years he suffered that exact devastating injury.
Against doctors’ advice, he decided to make a comeback. He played in his first game since the injury one week earlier when the Ravens defeated the Buffalo Bills to open the season.
Pitta’s second game back happened where his career nearly ended.
“I wasn’t thinking about my hip going into this game, and
rightfully so,” he said. “I think I would be doing myself a disservice to be thinking about it. I just feel fortunate to come out healthy. I took some shots in that game, but fortunately, my body held up.”
Baltimore needed everything Pitta could offer Sunday. He was a key piece to his team’s 20-point comeback win over the Browns, the second-biggest comeback in franchise history.
He made a 30-yard catch in the second quarter to help set up the Ravens’ first touchdown of the game. Later, Pitta’s 28yard reception led to the goahead field goal.
But head coach John Harbaugh viewed Pitta’s three third-down conversion as his biggest contributions.
“Having a tight end that can be a third-down playmaker is really important,” Harbaugh said. “It’s really valuable. You can’t coach that.”
Pitta leads Baltimore in receptions (12) and yards receiving (141) through two games. Flacco never doubted what he would see from his good friend if he decided to return to football.
“If he was coming back, I felt like he was going to be productive,” Flacco said. “He looked good; he looked like himself. He’s going to get more and more comfortable as the year goes on.”
Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who is also returning from a major injury, said Pitta serves as inspiration.
“I see what Dennis is doing, and man, I’m inspired. It’s great to play with a guy like that,” Smith said. “To see how he’s playing after what he went through, seeing him shifty and being the old Dennis, it’s fantastic.”
Pitta said that he expected to feel aches and pains following Sunday’s game, but only the normal soreness of playing in the NFL.
For many, it was natural to view Pitta’s return to Cleveland as a major milestone signaling that his hip injuries are behind him, but he doesn’t see it that way.
“I feel like I’m over the hump, there’s no more hurdles for me to climb,” Pitta said. “I’ve taken hits. I’ve been grinding on the practice field and put my body through a lot and it’s responded well. I’m confident in how I feel and how I’ll feel going forward. It’s not something I’m going to think about and it’s not something where I’ll think there’s another hurdle to climb.”
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Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta caught nine passes for 102 yards during the Ravens’ comeback win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.