I had the binoculars – Bushnell cheapies borrowed from a colleague, but times are tough all over -- on tight end Dennis Pitta in the Ravens’ 44-13 blow-out of the Bengalson Monday night.
Pitta is like that guy you played high school ball with who dominated the stat sheet week after week while everyone else on the team wondered: how the hell does he do it?
He’s not particularly fast. He’s big at 6-4 and 245 pounds, but not dinosaur-big, not Rob Gronkowski- big. He’s totally unassuming. But somehow he finds a way to shine, which is what he did against a Cincinnati defense ranked No. 7 in 2011.
Joe Flacco absolutely loves Pitta. Loves throwing to him, too. Flacco threw his way nine times against the Bengals and Pitta caught five passes for 73 yards (a career high) and a touchdown.
Say what you want about team chemistry – I happen to think it’s vastly overrated; good players can hate each other and still play great. But Flacco and Pitta definitely are on the same wave-length.
They’re great friends, for one thing. Flacco totally trusts him as a receiver. And they share a similar emotional balance. They might celebrate big plays with a quick whoop and a fist-pump. But seconds later, they’re back to having the demeanor of a tax auditor.
But the main thing you saw from Pitta, the part of his game that’s so strong, is this: he finds a way to get open.
He’s one of those receivers who instinctively knows how to find a seam in the defense. And when he finds it, he settles in – seemingly unnoticed at times – while Flacco goes through his progressions until he spots him.
That part about settling into a seam unnoticed will probably end soon. If he has any more nights like Monday’s, opposing teams will quickly start paying attention to him and game-planning for him even more than they do now.
But if he stays healthy – and it looks as if his surgically repaired hand is OK now – he could have a huge role in the Ravens’ offense this season. He’s that good at getting open.
The two buddies, Flacco and Pitta, sure got off to a great start against the Bengals. It was fun to watch a quarterback and tight end so perfectly in sync.
Although it definitely wasn’t much fun for the Bengals.