OWINGS MILLS — Bernard Pollard crashed into New England
Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady nearly four years ago, causing severe
damage to the left knee of one of the most iconic players in the game.
The impact of the legal hit shredded Brady’s anterior
cruciate ligament, ending his season and triggering a major change in the NFL
rulebook governing contact with quarterbacks.
“You can’t control what happens on that field,” said
Pollard, who was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs at the time. “At any time,
at any second, something bad can happen. And that’s what happens in this game
every week, somebody goes down. It just so happened to be Tom Brady and
everybody made a big deal about it.”
Now, Pollard is the starting strong safety for the Baltimore
Ravens’ AFC championship game against the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette
Following the 2008 season, the NFL competition committee
passed the so-called “Brady Rule.”
That made it illegal for a defender on the ground to
intentionally lunge at quarterbacks’ knees or an even lower aiming point unless
they were blocked or pushed into the passer.
“The rule is if you go down there, they’re taking change out
of your pockets,” said Pollard, who has consistently emphasized that he never
intended to hurt Brady. “That’s the pretty boy, that’s the man of the NFL.
That’s Mr. Do-It-All. So, everybody is going to hold that against me but I don’t
care. I don’t play for men.
“I don’t play for no woman. I play because I’m given the
gift to play this game. And in this sport, you can’t say, ‘Go out there and hit
somebody full speed with equipment and everything else on,’ and say, ‘Be
When Brady was reminded about the painful encounter with
Pollard, he certainly hadn’t forgotten what happened.
“Certainly nothing you take for granted because you never
know, this could be your last day," Brady told New England reporters. “To
have the opportunity to play in a game like we’re playing in this week and
prepare for a game like this is something that is exciting for all the players
involved. When you don’t have that opportunity, it sucks."
Since that game, Pollard has only squared off one time with
Playing for the Houston Texans, Pollard intercepted Brady as
his team defeated the Patriots, 34-27, two years ago.
“We’re dogs with no leashes, that’s how it is,” Pollard
said. “We’re not trying to be malicious. We’re not malicious. We’re not trying
to be dirty players, but this is the game. We tackle guys for a living. We know
and understand that at any time you can go down, and that’s what happened.”
INJURY UPDATES: Every player practiced Wednesday for the AFC
The Ravens listed only one player on their official injury
report as Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed was limited with a sprained left ankle.
Inside linebackers Jameel McClain (sprained medial
collateral ligament) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (strained right quadriceps),
defensive tackle Arthur Jones (leg) and offensive tackle Michael Oher (knee)
aren’t on the injury report.
“Injury-wise, everyone has been in here working hard the
last couple of days,” Harbaugh. “It looks like we’re in pretty good shape.
There may be one or two guys that will be close, but we feel pretty good with
where we’re at with that.”
Meanwhile, Brady didn’t practice due to a left shoulder
Fourteen Patriots were limited, including: wide receivers
Deion Branch (knee), Wes Welker (knee), offensive tackles Marcus Cannon
(ankle), Nate Solder (concussion) and Sebastian Vollmer (back, foot),
linebackers Dane Fletcher (thumb), Rob Ninkovich (hip), Brandon Spikes (knee)
and Tracy White (abdomen), Safety Patrick Chung (knee), tight end Aaron
Hernandez (concussion), safety James Ihedigbo (shoulder), offensive guard Logan
Cornerback Kyle Arrington (foot), center Dan Connolly
(groin) and wide receiver Matthew Slater (shoulder) participated fully.
SUGGS, BRADY MENDING FENCES: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell
Suggs is done trading barbs with Brady, at least this week and recently.
Suggs has delivered a few verbal shots to the star
quarterback in the past with Brady responding by pointing out the Ravens’ 1-6
record against the Patriots.
“I guess the genesis of that was the incident in ’09, when I
almost hit him below the waist,” Suggs said. “That’s when it all started, but
you grow and mature. As you all can clearly see, I’m not the same guy that I
was in ’09. I’m definitely 20 pounds lighter.
“We had a lot going on, that defense. I’m pretty much over
it. I respect him. Like I said before, when it’s all said and done, they are
going to speak on three quarterbacks: Johnny [Unitas], Peyton [Manning] and
Given the chance to make fun of Brady for being a spokesman
for UGG boots, Suggs took a pass.
“I heard they are really comfortable,” Suggs said with a
smile. “I’ll take some. I’ll send him some Ball So Hard gear.”
Suggs has been giving out “Ball So Hard University” T-shirts
to his teammates, including running back Ray Rice.
BELICHICK PRAISE: Patriots coach Bill Belichick singled out
Reed and middle linebacker Ray Lewis for compliments.
He referred to the perennial Pro Bowlers as "two of the
greatest players to ever play the game,” telling New England reporters it would
be difficult to place “anybody even in their class, let alone above them.”
Belichick and Reed have something of a mutual admiration
society and the Super Bowl winning coach has worked with Reed at the Pro Bowl
Referencing Reed’s pass deflection to seal a 20-13 AFC
divisional playoff win over the Houston Texans, Belichick said: “They throw the
Hail Mary to the other side and he comes all the way across the field and makes
the play, really kind of a game-saving play. Those are the kinds of plays he
makes. He probably covers more field back there as a single safety than most
teams can cover with two. .. Can’t say I’ve ever coached against anybody better
than Ed Reed in the secondary.”
ROSTER MOVE: The Ravens signed offensive lineman Garrett
Chisolm to the practice squad.
QUICK HITS: There are weather forecasts of snow and freezing
temperatures for Sunday’s game in Foxborough, Mass., at Gillette Stadium. The
Ravens, who practiced indoors Wednesday, vow they’ll be prepared. “We practice
with wet balls,” Harbaugh said. “We go outside in the rain. We practice in the
cold and stuff like that. We think we’re an all-weather team. We think we’re
built for any kind of conditions.” … Quarterback Joe Flacco indicated that he audibled
into a passing play during the fourth quarter out of a planned running play,
which has drawn criticism because the Ravens had a lead and were trying to run
out the clock. “The third down was a pass play,” Flacco said. “The second down
was a run play. They brought an all-out blitz. We had a little thing with
Anquan [Boldin] out there for that. Having looked back at it, I probably would
have handed the ball off. Hey, I honestly was not thinking about it that much.
I was thinking, ‘Hey, let’s go score a touchdown here and put the game out of
reach.’ It did not work out that way, but we still won the football game.” …
Harbaugh praised defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who has led the Ravens to
48 sacks after recording 27 sacks last season. “Chuck has done a great job,”
Harbaugh said. “Chuck is a great coach. The rest of the staff has done a great
job. Our players respect our coaches a great deal, and our coaches respect our
players. It’s more of a peer relationship in a lot of ways at this level, and
they’ve done a great job working together. Chuck is a great example of that.
Obviously, it’s been reflected in the way those guys have played. So, I’m
really proud of him and I’m proud of all our coaches.”