LONDON — The Falcons have seen Kyle Pitts working.
For them, it was just a matter of time before he turned in his first mega-NFL game.
“We all know what Kyle can do,” Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson said. “Like coach (Arthur Smith) always says, he expects stuff like that from Kyle. We do, too. He was the fourth overall pick. He’s got every asset. He’s got good speed, hands (and runs good) routes.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan has taken Pitts under his wing.
“That’s something that he’s been preaching, just staying the course every day, day-by-day,” Pitts said. “Trying to be the best player that I can be and it will come out in the games.”
“It was just a play-action play,” Pitts said. “Matt took a chance on and threw the ball.”
Pitts made sure he gathered in the pass before taking a hit from the safety.
“Stuff like that happens to Kyle, we want it to happen every week,” Patterson said. “We are just proud of the guy. He’s been coming each and every week. He’s doing everything he can. There’s a lot on his plate, but it comes with the territory.”
In the previous four games, Pitts has four catches for 31 yards in the opener against the Eagles, followed by five for 73, two for 35 and four for 50. He caught his first touchdown pass to put the Falcons up 10-0 against the Jets on Sunday.
He plans to keep the football in the basement at his house in a case.
“We always got his back,” Patterson said. “We support him. We just hope he continues to do that.”
Smith has been preaching patience as Pitts was turning in modest performances through the first four games.
“Like I said, it’s a long (season),” Smith said. “Everybody wants the hot take after Week One. You have to see continual improvement. That’s why Kyle is here. We like the player that he is becoming and he’ll continue to improve.”
The Falcons led 20-3 at halftime. The Jets, with the help of a shaky defensive pass interference call on cornerback A.J. Terrell cut it to 20-17 with just under 7 minutes to play.
The Falcons needed a drive.
With the game on the line, Ryan didn’t hesitate in throwing to Pitts.
“It really was the jump-start for us on the last drive, got us going,” Ryan said. “Wasn’t perfect on that last drive, but we made the plays we needed to make.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC
Running back Mike Davis capped the nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Falcons up 27-17.
“Great to get Mike in the end zone at the end of the game,” Ryan said.
The Jets added a field goal 22 seconds left, but the Falcons came up with the onside kick to preserve the win.
Ryan talked with Pitts after his big game.
“I just told him … (that) I’m proud of him,” Ryan said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of those in the future for him. He’s done a great job of focusing on growth and development day in and day out, just trying to get better.”
The Falcons were aware of Pitts’ slow start and through-the-roof expectations.
“There’s a lot of noise both positive and negative that can distract you from that,” Ryan said. “He’s been as good of a young guy of being able to just focus in on working hard every day and getting better, and I think he’s done that for the five games we’ve had.
“I expect him to continue that. I think it’s showing that he is really a talented player and can be a great player in this league.”
Pitts is not the overly excitable type.
“It definitely is exciting for myself and the team,” Pitts said. “The team we have is a great team. We’re going to get things rolling.”
Pitts’s fine showing also was timely since the Falcons were without Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, their top two receivers.
“I’m pretty blessed,” Pitts said. “I’ll be ready for those other guys to come back.”
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.