For the first time since the beginning of last season, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson finished a game with a combined zero catches in last Thursday’s 23-16 win against the Cleveland Browns.
Chances are that scenario won’t play out again Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have surrendered a touchdown to tight ends in three of four games this season.
Tony Gonzalez caught five passes for 53 yards and one score in the Atlanta Falcons’ 40-24 rout, Scott Chandler grabbed two balls for 53 yards and a touchdown in the Buffalo Bills’ 35-17 demolition, and Jimmy Graham finished with four receptions for 16 yards and a score in the New Orleans Saints’ 27-24 overtime loss.
Antonio Gates was the only tight end not to reach the end zone against the Chiefs, but he did catch three passes for 59 yards in the San Diego Chargers’ 37-20 victory.
To add to the challenge, Kansas City may play with a couple of injured starters in inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (groin) and free safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder).
“When talented players are out of the lineup, that plays to our advantage a little bit,” Pitta acknowledged. “But we’ll see who’s out there on Sunday and see if we can take advantage.”
The last time the Ravens and Chiefs met in an AFC Wildcard playoff game on Jan. 9, 2011, tight end Todd Heap grabbed 10 balls for 108 yards. Dickson said he and Pitta reviewed film of that game with tight ends coach Wade Harman.
“We definitely looked back at that game and back at the other teams that have played against these guys,” Dickson said. “They do a lot of things well on defense, but we also see a lot of things that we can take advantage of. We see that the safety, he’s not fully healthy, their linebacker. … But it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about us in the end and how we execute the plays that are being called.”