Pitta Steps Up In Boldin’s Absence

The second-year tight end lined up all over the field, especially at wide receiver.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, January 1st, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, AFC North, Ryan Mink, Week 17 at Bengals

The Ravens were looking for somebody to step up with wide receiver Anquan Boldin out.

They decided to go with second-year tight end Dennis Pitta.

Good choice.

The second-year tight end lined up all over the field against Cincinnati and caught six passes for 62 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown, in Baltimore’s 24-16 win.

“We kind of gave them a different look this week and I was split out wide some of our plays,” Pitta said. “It was a nice little changeup this week.”

Pitta had just one reception for one yard in his rookie season. The Ravens’ plan for the Week 17 game shows how far he has come in the team’s offense.

He lined up twice as a wide receiver in two-wide sets in the first quarter and did it a few more times throughout the course of the game. Pitta optioned into the backfield on numerous occasions as well, and came out to catch passes and help in the run game.

It helped give the Ravens another sure-handed, strong receiver outside – similar to what Boldin provides. Pitta has been a third-down converting machine this year.

Pitta tied Torrey Smith for the most targets on Sunday. Wide receiver Lee Evans, who was shut out last week stepping in to start in place of Boldin, was targeted by one deep pass that went off his fingertips.

Tight Ends Coach Wade Harman, who is the longest-tenured coach on the staff (since 1999), came up with the scheme during the week.

“I thought our coaches did a really nice job with this game plan,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said, giving credit to Harman, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, Running Backs Coach Wilbert Montgomery and Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller.

“We did some unique things with Anquan being out that helped us passing and running. … It was there at the right time.”

Boldin (knee) is expected to be back for the playoffs, so the Ravens likely won’t have to use the scheme again. But for one night, it paid huge dividends.

Pitta knew he was going to get more opportunities as he practiced in that role throughout the week

He got the Ravens’ second scoring drive going with a career-long, 39-yard gain. Baltimore was facing third-and-1 when they faked the run and quarterback Joe Flacco found Pitta wide open on the back end.

The play call and fake got him open, but Pitta finished the play by rumbling for an extra 15 yards after the Bengals first hit him. The Ravens got a field goal out of it.

Pitta’s biggest contribution was on the touchdown with 19 seconds remaining in the first half. Pitta lined up as a wideout in the slot and ran a fade to the back corner of the end zone. Flacco perfectly lofted the pass over cornerback Nate Clements and Pitta made a nice adjustment and catch to give Baltimore a 14-point halftime lead.

It was the third touchdown of the year for Pitta. He finished the regular season with 40 receptions for 405 yards.

“That ball was hanging up there, and obviously with the wind pushing on it,” Pitta said. “It was tough to track. Joe did a great job putting it away from the defender and to the corner where only I could get it.”

Tags: , ,