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TE Pitta Comes Up Big On Third Downs

The Ravens converted on a franchise-record 14 third downs.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Monday, November 7th, 2011 at 2:24 am | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Garrett Downing, Week 9 vs Steelers

Tight end Dennis Pitta is quickly becoming one of Joe Flacco’s primary targets in pressure situations.

The second-year tight end had five catches in Sunday night’s 23-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, which all came on third down conversions.

“It’s all about making money on third down,” Pitta said after the game. “Those are critical plays.”

Pitta’s five catches for 46 yards helped set up three scoring drives, and he was responsible for five of the Ravens’ franchise-record 14 third-down conversions (14/21).

“Dennis is great,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “He was big on a couple of third downs tonight.”

Flacco threw Pitta’s way early and often.

On the Ravens opening drive of the game, Pitta came up with a 23-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 to put the Ravens on the Steelers 30-yard line. The Ravens eventually settled for a field goal on that drive.

He had another third-down grab on a second-quarter drive that ended with a 43-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff.

Then on the Ravens first drive of the second half, which started after a Terrell Suggs interception, the offense drove 71 yards on 12 plays. Baltimore converted on three third-down plays on that drive, and two of those came on passes to Pitta. Ray Rice eventually capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, giving the Ravens a 16-6 lead.

“Joe did a great job of seeing the field, and delivering the ball right on the money,” Pitta said. “We were able to take advantage of some mismatches out there.”

The play of Pitta and fellow tight end Ed Dickson gives the Ravens a formidable tight end duo that creates matchup problems for opposing defenses.

They don’t have quite the pedigree of their predecessor Todd Heap, who was released by the Ravens before the season, but the young duo is developing into a quality option for Flacco and the offense.

“Both those young tight ends are going to be a huge asset for us,” Flacco said. “It’s like putting three wide receivers out there, they know how to run routes, they know how to get open.”

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