Falcons’ Kyle Pitts: ‘I was surprised and excited’
Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) catches a pass between Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) and free safety Jevon Holland (8) during the second half Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, who was taken with the fourth overall pick in the draft, had more than 100 yards receiving for the second game in a row and made a spectacular one-handed grab along the sideline in the second quarter.
Pitts had 119 yards receiving in the 27-20 win over the Jets. He became the first tight end to have back-to-back 100-yard games since Oakland’s Raymond Chester in Weeks 5 and 6 of the 1970 season.
His 163 yards in Sunday’s 30-28 win over Miami were the fourth-most by a rookie tight end, only trailing Jackie Smith (212), Mike Dikta (190) and Mark Bavaro (176).
Here’s what Pitts had to say after his historic performance:
Q. Could you walk us through the last play up the sidelines there.
KYLE PITTS: “Just a play where I had the go route and I beat my defender, and Matt Ryan had trust in me to throw me the ball.”
Q. Throughout the day, that wasn’t the first time you did that. How was the flow for you today? How comfortable were you out there? How did it feel to be making big plays to help the team out there again today?
PITTS: “It just felt great. Just taking everything play by play, trying to be the best I can for this team. When the opportunity comes my way, to just do something great.”
Q. How did it feel when you saw the kick going through and the heavy lifting was done and you all were able to get the W?
PITTS: “It was great. Winning in the NFL is hard, and it comes down to one possession. So for us to just come out and finish it, it was great.”
Q. Why has your progression been maybe so stunning the last three or four weeks?
PITTS: “I would say just preparation during the practice. Practicing hard for each game and pushing myself each week.”
Q. Is there anything you saw through the first two, two and a half weeks like, man, I need to do this better or I need to figure this out because that’s going to unlock the next three weeks?
PITTS: “Definitely small details. Just trying to stack bricks every game. Just eliminate the small things, the ones I messed up in the last game, and make them better this game.”
Q. Any small detail you’d like to share that you think may have been more important?
PITTS: “Just being — I would say just going as hard as I can each play, noticing what the defense is doing in my matchup.”
Q. You’re the first tight end since 1970 to have back-to-back 100-yard games. That’s 50 years ago. When you hear that, what goes through your head? You’ve done something that hasn’t been done in so long.
PITTS: “That’s a great statistic, but I want to keep going and have more games like this.”
Q. How do you grade the one-handed left-handed catch?
PITTS: “I feel like the ball just fell in my hand. I didn’t know I caught it at first, so it was pretty exciting.”
Q. You’ve done that several times during the season. What’s the key for you to securing the ball when you only have one hand to bring it back?
PITTS: “Just when it touches my palm, just tuck it as fast as I can and don’t let it drop.”
Q. You guys have won two games down at the last second now. Is there some confidence to be gained from that?
PITTS: “Definitely. I feel like we’re trending in the right direction. Each week we’re trying to get better on our small details to help us win.”
Q. Kyle, when you go back to the sideline after that one-handed catch, what are guys saying to you? What are the reactions from other guys? On TV, they just show eyes wide and jaws dropping. What are guys saying to you?
PITTS: “Just keep going. The game wasn’t over, just that was nice. We’ll talk about it at the end of the game, but just keep going. Keep making plays.”
Q. There’s that tight end stat that Michael mentioned, but do you consider yourself a tight end in the classic mold, or is there something different about the way you play?
PITTS: “I would think the whole position now kind of shifted to hybrid. A lot of tight ends around the league are kind of doing everything in the slot, outside, back side, 3 by 1. Yeah, I would consider myself a tight end, but I would just say the position has kind of changed.”
Q. (Inaudible)? Are there times you stick your hand out and hope for the best? What’s that ratio for you on some of those catches?
PITTS: “Just once I’m a step past my defender, I look for the ball.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC
Q. Were you surprised or excited that you’ve got the man coverage again on that final drive?
PITTS: “Yes.” (Laughter)
Q. Which? Surprised or excited or what?
PITTS: “I was surprised and excited.”
Q. Do your eyes get wide when you see that at this point? Are you at that point in the NFL where you’re like, if I have single coverage, this could go really well for me?
PITTS: “Close to it but not all the way. Just trying to win my matchup as best I can.”
Q. How was that for you when you were at Florida? At what point at Florida did you get to that level?
PITTS: “I would say my junior year. That’s where I was kind of flowing the best and coming out of my shell.”
Q. Matt Ryan was talking about his continuing evolution of his trust in you and your trust in him. Can you kind of speak to the development you’ve seen in that area with the two of you?
PITTS: “Just during the week, preparation and practice. We’re out seven-on-seven in teams trying to make the certain throws and making the catch so he can trust me.”
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.