John Harbaugh Calls Bernard Pollard Hit on Stevan Ridley ‘Football at Its Finest,’ Considers Play ‘Turning Point’ in Game

Bernard Pollard‘s hit on Stevan Ridley was certainly the scariest moment of the AFC Championship on Sunday, and according to Ravens coach John Harbaugh, it was also the game’s turning point.

Pollard delivered a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on Ridley with the Ravens clinging to an eight-point lead with a little under 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Patriots running back fumbled the ball, the Ravens recovered and the momentum seemed to shift completely in Baltimore’s favor. The entire was scene was rather awkward, though, because as the Ravens celebrated the huge play, Ridley remained on the ground seemingly unconscious.

Ridley’s body went completely limp upon Pollard delivering the blow, and the second-year back wouldn’t return to the game as a result of a head injury, adding to Pollard’s history of injuring Patriots players. Pollard ended Tom Brady‘s season in Week 1 in 2008, cut short Wes Welker‘s 2009 season with an ACL-tearing tackle and hurt Rob Gronkowski‘s ankle during last year’s AFC Championship game. In other words, the hard-hitting safety doesn’t have many fans in the New England area.

Surely, Harbaugh would have preferred that Ridley didn’t get hurt on the game-changing play, but he still views the hit in a positive light.

“That was the turning point of the game,” Harbaugh said, according to The Sports Network. “That was the turning point of the football game there on the 40-yard line. It was just a tremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard making a great physical tackle — just as good a tackle as you’re ever going to see in football right there. That just probably turned the game around right there.”

The idea that a play in which someone suffers such a scary injury can be considered “football at its finest” is a bit concerning, especially with the NFL’s emphasis on concussion treatment and prevention. Harbaugh is right in one respect, though, and that’s that Pollard’s hit completely sucked the life out of Gillette Stadium. At that point, a Ravens victory started to seem like a foregone conclusion.

Different year, same Pollard, I guess.

Click here to read John Harbaugh’s comments about Bill Belichick >>

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“When you slide . . . everything is on the ground. He knew what he was doing. It has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about it.”
–Bernard Pollard, still not happy about Tom Brady’s questionable first-half slide.

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