ATLANTA – Four days after earning his first Pro Bowl selection, Kyle Pitts proved why he was worthy of being the first rookie tight end in 20 years to earn that honor in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions.
Pitts exploded in the second half with four catches for 81-yards, including an impressive 35-yard catch in which he blew by Lions' defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and caught a pass while Melifonwu tugged his left hand.
Pitts finished the game with six catches for 102 yards and a bevy of broken records. With 949 yards on the season, Pitts passed Tony Gonzalez for the most yards by a Falcons tight end in a single season; he became the only rookie tight end in NFL history with 60+ receptions and 900 yards and is second all-time in yards in a single-season for a rookie tight end behind Mike Ditka (1,076).
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Here's how Pitts teammates, social media, and coach Arthur Smith reacted to Pitts' career day.
Arthur Smith: "It's a long season for a rookie. Like I said, he's just scratching the surface. He made the Pro Bowl. He broke the franchise record for most yards in a season by a tight end. And he's just getting started. He's a rookie. It's a long, long year. ...He's had the right mindset. That's why he's fun to coach. And like I said, I told him the other day when he made the Pro Bowl, he's just scratching the surface. If he can continue to improve we'll see where this thing goes."
Matt Ryan: "Early on, he had a great work ethic, was willing to go out there and put in the work. I think there always comes that time in the season where it gets tough, and I've been really impressed with him pushing through that and continuing going out there and put the time in even when it becomes uncomfortable because my belief is that it pays off, and I appreciate that from him.