Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta talks about playing again after his season-ending injury last season. (Jonas Shaffer, Baltimore Sun video)
Dennis Pitta's stat line isn't eyecatching, but perhaps the most important takeaway from Sunday is that the tight end came away from his first game in almost two years without suffering an injury.
"I feel really good, and the legs feel good," Pitta said after the Ravens' 13-7 win against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium in the season opener. "I stayed healthy, which is important, and I am excited to keep it rolling."
Pitta finished with three receptions on four targets for 39 yards, his first action since Sept. 21, 2014 when he fractured his right hip in the second quarter of a 23-21 win at the Cleveland Browns. Although he has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns in his seven-year career since being selected in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL draft, Pitta had played in just 7 games between 2013 and 2015.
After catching just one pass for seven yards in the first half, Pitta grabbed two balls for 32 yards, including a fourth-quarter reception over the middle in which he induced Bills linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) to overpursue before Pitta fell backward to collect the pass from quarterback Joe Flacco.
"He did a good job of reading the situation and making a nice throw where I could make an adjusted catch," Pitta said. "We did a good job of working the linebacker there because he had his head turned. It is one of those feel things, and it's something you don't get to rep in practice. When it happened in the game, we were both on the same page."
Flacco noted the response from the crowd after plays made by Pitta and wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who made his first NFL appearance since being chosen by the Ravens in the first round of the 2015 draft.
"I don't think about all that stuff, and then Breshad catches a pass, and the crowd goes wild, and then Dennis caught a pass, and the crowd went nuts," Flacco said. "I guess that was Breshad's first catch. They definitely were aware of it, and it was pretty cool."