If Dennis Pitta felt rusty coming into Monday night's season opener, it didn't show.
After missing the entire preseason with a broken hand, Pitta shined in his return and played a key role in the Ravens' 44-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It was a good start and something to build off," Pitta said.
Pitta caught a team-leading five passes for a career-high 73 yards and one touchdown. He was targeted on four other attempts.
Three of Pitta's receptions came on a critical touchdown drive in the third quarter, where he caught passes for gains of 23, 10 and three yards.
Pitta capped off that drive with a 10-yard touchdown on a jump ball on third down. Flacco lofted the ball down the middle of the field and Pitta leaped over a defender to make the grab.
"I think we were both on the same page on that play and he put it up where I could go up and make a play," Pitta said. "I just kind of was able to box him out a little bit, and Joe put the ball up where only I would be able to go up and get it."
His return to the lineup provided a boon for the offense, as he's developed into one of Flacco's most reliable targets. The sure-handed tight end is also one of Flacco's best friends off the field, and the chemistry between the two didn't take long to re-gain.
"We have a good foundation from last year," Pitta said. "We really got a week to work, and I have a long way to go."
The Ravens also got tight end Ed Dickson back in the lineup after he suffered a shoulder sprain in the preseason opener. He finished the game with two catches for 22 yards.
"They played really well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Those guys study. They stayed with it. They worked really hard and they had a body of work underneath with Joe, underneath themselves, built up over the course of the offseason."
Harbaugh joked that the play of Pitta and Dickson might have some of the other players questioning the merits of training camp.
"Some of these players will be telling me now, 'Why do we need training camp if those guys can play that well?" Harbaugh said.
But Pitta said that coming back from so much lost time wasn't easy to do during this last week of practice.
"It's hard to miss all of training camp and just jump into the game like that," Pitta said. "It wasn't perfect tonight."
The other good news for Pitta and the Ravens moving forward is that he feels healthy coming out of the game.
"The hand feels pretty good," Pitta said. "I took a couple of shots and there's going to be a little soreness, but overall I came out of it pretty good."