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Dennis Pitta an X-factor for Ravens in playoff chase

Christmas came early for the Baltimore Ravens. The gift? A healthy and productive Dennis Pitta.

Just five months ago, Pitta was writhing in pain after suffering a dislocated hip in the first contact practice of training camp. It was a bad injury, one that Ravens coach John Harbaugh initially said would end the tight end's 2013 season.

Pitta underwent surgery and was stashed on the physically unable to perform list. He rehabbed his way back, got cleared and played 36 snaps in Sunday's wild win over the Minnesota Vikings. Pitta finished with six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Most importantly, he came out of the game feeling healthy.

"I remember when I got injured, I didn't know if I was even going to play football again," he said, via "So being able to stand here and talk about a victory and being a part of that is special for me. And just being a part of this team and being able to fight the way we did today is pretty remarkable."

Losing Pitta was a devastating setback to a Ravens offense that had planned an even larger role for the tight end after wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded. Pitta's injury wiped away those plans and left quarterback Joe Flacco without his most dependable red-zone target.

Now Pitta's back, a reality that makes Flacco a better quarterback and the Ravens a more cohesive offensive unit. Consider Pitta an under-the-radar X-factor in the wide-open AFC landscape.

*The latest "Around the League Podcast" recapped all the Week 14 games. *

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