Perhaps forgotten in the craziness of yesterday’s fourth quarter slug fest between the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings was the much heralded return of tight end Dennis Pitta.
The crowd roared with approval – blanketed in a blizzard-like snow storm – when Pitta caught his first pass of the season with 26 seconds left in the first half and all seemed right with the world.
The Ravens received an early Christmas gift; the return of a dynamic play-maker who’s solid route running and hands meant to catch anything thrown his way, sparked a rejuvenation of massive proportions as we head into the stretch run.
The success of the offense hinges on a completely healthy return of Pitta, and the success of his friend and quarterback, Joe Flacco as well. Pitta was targeted 11 times, tied with WR Marlon Brown for most on the day. He couldn’t hang on to a couple passes early in the game, but chalk that up to weeks of inactivity and terrible conditions.
Despite the drops, he knocked the rust off quick, catching six passes for 48 yards in the win.
One of those catches, in a crucial situation, came with 2:05 left in the 4th and the Ravens facing 4th-and-1. Flacco found Pitta who hauled in his first touchdown this season on a well-timed throw by Flacco and dove into the end zone to put the Ravens up briefly at 13-12.
One thing is for certain, he doesn’t appear to have lost a step or the ability to catch passes when the team needs him the most. Even in treacherous field conditions, Pitta looked good moving around from what I could see.
Wherever he lined up, he looked good off his breaks and ran routes well for someone that’s been out since late July. Pitta saw plenty of time when the Ravens ran no-huddle and time in the slot where he found himself at certain points last season making crucial catches.
He caught passes and moved the chains for first downs, he took on defenders, driving hard with his legs to gain extra yardage. Just his presence alone drew a pass interference penalty on the game-winning drive that set up Marlon Brown’s touchdown catch.
Seriously, this guy nearly had a career-ending hip injury?
He even bounced back nicely after taking a solid hit along the sidelines early in the game, knocking him on his hip and lower side, but Pitta looked spry, getting back up. His outing was a huge first test and telling the media after, is very pleased where he finds himself at.
“We stuck to the plan. I was anticipating being able to play this much,” he said. “I felt good throughout the game and didn’t think about my hip, which is encouraging going forward.”
Pitta’s return is cause for celebration. The fans are happy another contributor to the Super Bowl run is back in full force and healthy and a quarterback who’s looking to make some late season magic very happy as well.