The Atlanta Falcons beat the New York Giants 17-14 on Sunday on a field goal by Younghoe Koo as time expired.
Rookie Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick in April's NFL Draft, had a key 25-yard catch on the game-winning drive.
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It was an important catch for Pitts and the Falcons, but it was also only his second catch of the day. Pitts was only targeted three times on the afternoon.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was asked right away in his post-game press conference about the prized rookie's lack of touches.
"Yeah, look, those are surface narratives," said Smith. "The defense has a say, too. It’s a game of cat and mouse and sometimes these 1-on-1 progressions, they took it away. He’ll go to other places. We try to get all our guys involved."
Smith was quick to credit the Giants' defense for their game plan against Pitts and the Falcons.
"Because he didn’t touch the ball early, doesn’t mean he wasn’t called," said Smith. "But when you come up and the game's on the line, they change it up and [Falcons quarterback] Matt [Ryan] found him when we needed to, so I was happy to see that."
Smith praised Pitts' focus and attitude for coming up with an important catch late despite the lack of action through the first 57 minutes of the game.
"It's big," said Smith. "It says a lot about him. I told you guys whether we win or lose we got to keep improving. Clearly there’s a lot of things for us to improve on, but at the end of the day, it says a lot about a guy like Kyle – you don't touch the ball three and a half quarters and two of the biggest plays in the game, he comes up big in the clutch."
Smith wasn't surprised that Pitts was ready when called. He's incredibly mature for a player who is still 20 years old. Smith said Pitts didn't need a pep talk to stay involved in the game, and they saw his mental toughness and maturity in the draft process.
"He’s exactly who we thought he was when we drafted him," said Smith. "He’s not even 21 yet and that’s not only the physical traits, the mental traits, I think that shows up."
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While Pitts didn't have a big day on the stat sheet, he had a key catch on the game winning drive. He drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on the game tying drive in the fourth quarter.
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He won't always be happy being a decoy, but he caused so much concern in the red zone that Ryan was able to find Olamide Zaccheaus wide open for a four-yard touchdown catch at the end of the second quarter.
The über-talented rookie only had two catches for 35 yards on the day. Those numbers may have upset fantasy football owners, but Smith and the Falcons were thrilled with Pitts in the win over the Giants.