Chick Hernandez talks with CSN Bay Area's Dave Feldman
No one ever is going to question the toughness of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, or that of safety Bernard Pollard, who was once again a one-man wrecking crew against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
But the bar on toughness in Sunday's game might have been set by Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta. Coming across the middle, Pitta made a 5-yard reception and was then absolutely crushed by Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo in what Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports called "one of the hardest hits of the season from one of the NFL's toughest linebackers."
Pitta not only somehow held on, but he popped right back up. On the next play, he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass that gave the Ravens the lead for good in their 28-13 win.
The message from Pitta and the Ravens was clear: We are not going to be pushed around.
"In those situations you gotta focus on the ball and not what's around you," said the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Pitta , who finished with five catches for 55 yards. "I was able to hold on and take a pretty big shot. That's part of the game. Sometimes you're going to take those kind of shots. You just gotta get back up and keep playing, and we were fortunate to get a touchdown there after it."
The Ravens never trailed again, and now are headed to New Orleans for the second Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
"That's why we play this game," Pitta said in the victorious locker room Sunday night. "We want to win football games. We want to get to the Super Bowl. We want to win it all. We want to be champions."