Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) celebrates with quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Dennis Pitta was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. It seemed like a good time to reflect on the peaks in his memorable career.
This time last year, we didn’t know if Dennis Pitta would ever play football again. Pitta had back to back season ending hip injuries. It was the kind of grueling pain that can end a career, but the Ravens’ tight end wouldn’t let that happen. Many experts thought that Pitta should have retired. Others thought that the Ravens should part ways with him. Pitta proved everybody wrong, coming off one of the best seasons in his career.
The former fourth round pick has been one of the most inspirational Ravens of all time. The Ravens drafted Ed Dickson, the same year, a round earlier. Pitta wasn’t supposed to be the star that he became. He also ended up being an important part of the 2012 Super Bowl run. Nothing can stop Pitta. He showed that he has a ton of heart.
Pitta will always be a fan favorite in Baltimore. He is coming off a season where he had 86 receptions, 729 yards and two touchdowns. Let’s take a look at his best moments.
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) catches pass for a touchdown from quarterback Joe Flacco (not pictured) in front of Miami Dolphins free safety Bacarri Rambo (30) and linebacker Spencer Paysinger (42) during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
5. Clobbering The Dolphins:
The Ravens offense exploded in their week 13 meeting with the Miami Dolphins. Dennis Pitta was the main benefactor of the offenses awakening. Pitta had nine receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns on the day. The Ravens won 38-6. It was a day where anything seemed possible. After fracturing his hip twice, Pitta was playing sensational football.
Number 88 had a 25 yard reception in that game. It was his third reception gaining over 20 yards on the day. This game seemed like a reward for all the grueling rehab, and for all the heartbreak that Pitta had to overcome.
Pitta has never gotten the credit he deserves as being Flacco’s go to guy. We always talk about how Flacco and Boldin were the perfect match on the football field. We always talk about how Flacco leaned on Steve Smith Sr. That being said, Pitta has always been Flacco’s favorite target.
Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) catches a pass over the defense of Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Chris Kirksey (58) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
4. Making A Statement In A Comeback Win
The Baltimore Ravens didn’t know if Pitta was going to make it through the season. We were almost waiting for that other shoe to drop, for everything to go wrong. It seemed inevitable but the horrible situation never happened. In week 2, Pitta gave the football world a statement of a performance.
The Ravens were down 20-2 after the worst first quarter the Ravens ever played against the Browns. Nothing was going right. The defense gave up three big plays in the first 15 minutes of the game. Chris Moore dropped what would have been a touchdown pass. I repeat nothing went right.
Then the offense heated up and the Ravens came back. One reason the offense found its groove, was Pitta’s efforts. He had nine receptions for 102 yards in the game. He even had a 30 yard reception. Pitta found the open field and he rumbled his way for a big gain. Pitta came up with some huge catches, when the Ravens needed it most.
Sep 11, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws to tight end Dennis Pitta (88) during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
3. Coming Up Big Against The Chargers
One of the most memorable moments in the Ravens history was their 16-13 win against the Chargers in 2012. The most memorable moment in that game has nothing to do with Pitta. That was the game with the fourth and 29 conversion by Ray Rice. That play was epic, but it was also an amazing game. The Ravens could not have won the game without Pitta.
The Ravens were down 13-3 in the fourth quarter. Pitta scored a huge touchdown late in the game to make it 13-10. Then in overtime, Flacco found Pitta for a huge third down conversion. Pitta had six receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown for the day.
This was one of the biggest wins in Ravens history. Without that win, the Ravens may not have survived their late season three game losing streak. Rice made one of the magical plays in the history of the Ravens. Pitta also came up big for his team.
Dec 16 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) brings in a touchdown reception as he is defended by Denver Broncos strong safety Mike Adams (20) at M&T Bank Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Ravens 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
2. A Clutch Catch In Denver
The Baltimore Ravens would not remember the Mile High Miracle if it was not for Pitta. The Ravens fans wouldn’t have won Super Bowl XLVII without clutch plays like the one Pitta made against the Broncos. The 2012 playoffs were supposed to be a clear path Peyton Manning’s Broncos. Instead the Ravens stole a win in Denver and won it all.
Backed up in their own territory, late in the game the Ravens needed a first down desperately. Flacco knew just what to do. He put the football where only Pitta could grab it. The back shoulder pass was hauled in by Pitta. It was not an easy catch but Flacco trusted his go to guy to make the first down.
Pitta only had three receptions for 55 yards in that game. It wasn’t about quantity, it was about quality. That play saved the day for the Ravens. Instead of giving the Broncos great field position and a chance to put away the purple and black, Pitta kept an important drive going.
Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) celebrates a first half touchdown with center Matt Birk (77) against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
1. Super Bowl Touchdown
There is nothing like scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. It’s something I can only dream about. It’s something that every NFL player has on their to do list. Pitta scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl and it put the Ravens up 14-0. The Ravens came out firing in the Super Bowl. They scored three touchdowns in the first half, against a great 49ers defense.
The Ravens spread the wealth on that glorious. Anquan Boldin, Pitta and Jacoby Jones scored receiving touchdowns in the big game. Pitta ended up with four receptions for 26 yards and a score. Pitta helped the Ravens get to the top and he got to enjoy a touchdown in the biggest game of his career.
The Ravens have one heck of a tight end. He is the most deserving recipient of the comeback player award in recent memory. He is an incredible player and an incredible man. Ravens Nation will always think of Dennis Pitta as one of their favorite players.