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“He’s got every asset” – rookie tight end Kyle Pitts was hailed by his team-mates Matt Ryan and Cordarrelle Patterson and head coach Arthur Smith after inspiring the Atlanta Falcons to victory over the New York Jets with a career day in London.
Last Updated: 11/10/21 1:03pm
For a player constantly marketed as a footballing unicorn, Kyle Pitts was present and on display at a un-unicorn-like frequency as he inspired the Atlanta Falcons to victory over the New York Jets with a breakout game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
No Calvin Ridley, no Russell Gage, no problem for Arthur Smith, who unleashed his fourth overall pick tight end for 119 yards and a touchdown upon the NFL’s return to London.
Lofty expectations surrounding Pitts were heightened further during the offseason when the Falcons traded seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans.
Tougher tests await than a transitioning, rebuilding Jets team, but Sunday was the biggest glimpse yet this season of Pitts’ potential to replace at least some of the production lost with Jones.
“We all know what Kyle can do,” said Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson. “Like coach always say, he expects stuff like that from Kyle. We do too. He was the fourth overall pick. He got every asset. He got good speed, hands, routes.
“Stuff like that happen to Kyle, we want it to happen every week. We 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.
“We always got his back. We support him. We just hope he continue to do that.”
Having trailed 20-3 after the first half, the Jets threatened a comeback in the fourth quarter when Michael Carter’s two-yard rushing touchdown reduced the deficit to 20-17.
The Falcons turned to Pitts in response on the ensuing drive, quarterback Matt Ryan picking out the Florida product for a 39-yard gain to help set up Mike Davis’ eventually-decisive three-yard touchdown run.
“I just told him right before I came in here I’m proud of him,” said Ryan. “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.
“There’s a lot of noise both positive and negative that can distract you from that. 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’ standout day was complemented by yet another from Cordarrelle Patterson, who took further strides towards a career year in his ninth season in the NFL as the gadget running back posted 114 total yards from scrimmage from 14 carries and seven catches.
It was his 16-yard leaping catch at the Jets’ two-yard line that would tee up Pitts’ maiden NFL touchdown in the first quarter.
“Kyle stepped up, him and Patterson both,” said head coach Smith. “Like I said, we’ll continue to evolve offensively. It was good. He (Pitts) won one-on-one matchups, he made some big-time plays for us. Like I said, it’s a long game for us. Everybody wants the hot pick after week one. You have to see continual improvement. That’s why Kyle is here. He’ll continue to improve.”
It meanwhile proved a milestone day for Atlanta’s Ryan as he became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to reach 5,000 career completions, while also surpassing former New York Giants two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning into eighth in all-time passing yards.
“I’m proud of that,” he said. “I’ve completed the ball to a lot of great players in those five thousand completions. I certainly wouldn’t still be in this position if I wasn’t surrounded by an incredible supporting cast.
“I’m very proud to still be doing it and feel like I’m doing it at a high level. I certainly have had a lot of help along the way, so I’m appreciative of that.
“It’s one of those things, you don’t think about it as a player. You focus every week on trying to get yourself ready to play the best you possibly can that week. I think having tried to stay in that mindset for the duration of my career has allowed me to kind of stack some of those accomplishments.
“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I’m focused on trying to help this team win as we move forward.”
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