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Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “bromance,” but he and quarterback Joe Flacco are definitely tight.
Flacco and Pitta, and their wives, get together for dinner nearly every Monday night during the season. They try to hit a movie afterwards too.
“Me and Dennis are up for a chick flick every once in a while,” Flacco said with a chuckle.
Their off-field connection has made a difference on the field too, each player says.
When the Ravens needed a wide receiver to step in for the injured Anquan Boldin against the Bengals, they chose Pitta. He caught six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
After catching one pass for one yard last year, Pitta has notched 40 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns this season. Going into the playoffs, he’ll be an integral part of helping Flacco and the Ravens offense take the next step.
“When you know someone well, you kind of develop that chemistry on and off the field and there’s a level of trust,” Pitta sad. “It makes it a lot easier to kind of know what the other is thinking on the field.”
The connection began soon after Pitta was drafted in the fourth round last year. Pitta met up with Todd Heap, who like Pitta hails from the Southwest, shares the same agent and is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), in the offseason to soak up as many lessons as he could from a Pro Bowl tight end.
Flacco was close with Heap, as well as backup quarterback John Beck, who threw passes to Pitta for one season (2004) at Brigham Young. Thus, the four of them started hanging out.
Flacco and Pitta have similar demeanors, so they naturally clicked.
“We’re both kind of relaxed personalities,” Pitta said. “I think Joe’s a real down to earth guy. I don’t know, we just get along.”
The two came up with the idea together that they were going to start sporting fu manchus – just for the humor of it. That’s what kind of guys they are.
They were hanging out at Flacco’s place with the quarterback’s cousin, Dave, who had a “dirty moustache,” Pitta recalls. After getting a good laugh about it, the plan was hatched and they executed it a couple days later on the eve of their primetime Thanksgiving game against San Francisco.
Flacco and Pitta connected on a fourth-quarter, 8-yard touchdown that essentially won the game. The fu manchu connection was born.
“We thought it was funny to do it for a couple games,” Pitta said with a grin. “I never had the intent to keep it this long. I’m kind of ready to shave it.”
Their strong ties have helped the two find each other often and in critical moments of games. Of Pitta’s 40 receptions, 28 have been for first downs.
When it’s third down, Pitta has often been the receiver Flacco has looked for.
“When you have two guys that are capable of talking to each other, I think it helps those conversations like, ‘This is what I’m seeing, what are you seeing?’” Flacco said.
Flacco isn’t the only Pitta fan. There’s a certain Ravens outside linebacker who likes him too.
Suggs has kept the joke running since, but there’s some truth to it too.
While not wanting to take away from fellow second-year tight end Ed Dickson, who Suggs called a “hell of a tight end,” the sack artist raved about Pitta.
“Mr. Dependable. Anytime you need a play, you can rely on him,” Suggs said. “I’m just a Dennis Pitta fan. He’s kind of the black sheep. We’ve got a lot of personality on this team. Here you’ve got this blue collar guy, he’s not really flamboyant, he’s not really, ‘Hey, give me the ball.’ He just shows up to work, throw him the ball, he catches it, he’s happy. You tell him to block, he blocks.
“He’s just one of those guys you want on your team. He can get along with everybody. Whether you’re playing Lil Wayne or Garth Brooks, he’ll have fun with it. He’s just one of those guys [who] everybody likes him. I love Dennis Pitta. He’s my candidate for MVP.”