Falcons’ Kyle Pitts stayed patient, ready for late key catches

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts comments on contribution during the final drives of the 17-14 win over the Giants in New York.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts stayed ready.

He was double-teamed and at times triple-teamed by the New York Giants, until he broke free for two big catches and a pass interference call that were pivotal in the Falcons’ 17-14 win over the New York Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

“Definitely, I don’t get frustrated,” Pitts said. “It’s 10 other people on the field who can contribute and make a play. I know if they are double-teaming me or three people are around me, someone else is open.”

So, for three quarters, Pitts did not even get a target.

“They just had someone over the top and someone underneath,” Pitts said.

The Falcons had no idea how the Giants would try to play Pitts, who was the fourth player taken in the NFL Draft.

“It’s kind of like the nature of football,” Pitts said. “You can’t really control that or practice it.”

With the Falcons down 14-7 on third-and-8 from the Atlanta 30 with 11:34 left in the game, Pitts got free for his first catch of the game. He picked up 10 yards to move the sticks.

New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) misses a potential intercept on a pass intended for Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (center left) in the end zone during the second half Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Credit: Seth Wenig

icon to expand image

Credit: Seth Wenig

Later on second-and-goal from the 6, Ryan tossed one of his two fourth-quarter incompletions. On third-and-goal, lofted up a high pass to Pitts and New York’s Logan Ryan was called for defensive pass interference to move the ball to the 1.

“I was just fighting through contact,” Pitts said. “He was kind of holding my arm. The ref (saw) that and threw the flag.”

Two plays later, Ryan tossed a touchdown pass to Lee Smith. Koo’s extra point tied the game.

After the defense got a stop, Ryan connected with Pitts on a 25-yard play to get in field goal position at the Giants’ 25-yard line.

“When I turned my head, I (saw) the ball,” Pitts said. “I was running my route and wanted to win my matchup. When I (saw) the ball, I wanted to make the play.”

Ryan is a master at reading defenses and took the short check-down pass that they Giants were giving him.

“I thought they had a nice plan to come out and keep things in front,” Ryan said. “At times, two guys on Calvin (Ridley) and zone coverage and two guys over the top where Kyle was. Not letting anything down the field and forcing us to check the football down and be patient.”

When the Giants were slipping late, Ryan was ready to pounce.

“Then we had some chances,” Ryan said. “The third down situation where Kyle runs a crossing route and uses his big body. That was a crucial third down conversion for us. Then he really made a great play on the pass interference call, too.

“When you have a big-bodied guy like that and there are off-schedule plays in the red area you have confidence to give guys opportunities. Opportunity throws. That set us up to finish that drive off. I thought the catch on the corner route on the last drive of the game really kind of sealed the deal.”

Falcons coach Arthur Smith thought Ryan did a great job of staying patient against the Giants’ scheme.

“Defense has a say, too, clearly. We want to get the ball to our best players,” Smith said. “The defense has a say, too. So, we found (Calvin Ridley) a lot early. We got the running game going at times when we needed to. OZ (Olamide Zaccheaus) stepped up.”

Pitts is not playing one-on-one, like in basketball.

“It’s not isolations,” Smith said. “This whole thing, hey, we’re going to play isolation basketball. Yeah, we want to get Kyle the ball. You’ve got to give (New York defensive coordinator) Patrick Graham and their defensive (staff) credit. We chipped away and chipped away and he comes through at the end.”

Smith doesn’t like “why can’t they get the ball to Pitts” twitter crowd.

“That’s a surface narrative, sure I’ll look at it,” Smith said. “Can I call him a slide or screen and force it to him, yeah maybe. ... They (the Giants) have a say, you can put it on me. But it has more to say about his character that he kept chipping away and made a critical third down, big catch on the last drive to set us up.”

The get “Pitts the ball” crowd has been relentless.

“I think it’s disrespectful to the Giants and their defense and their defensive staff,” Smith said.

He was pleased with how Pitts came through in the clutch.

“That’s what your job is as a pro,” Smith said. “If that’s not the job description, then we have to find a different one. That’s the guys that we have.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles