Tag Archive | "Bernard Pollard"

Pollard’s locker room antics draw the ultimate penalty flag

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Pollard’s locker room antics draw the ultimate penalty flag

Posted on 14 March 2013 by Drew Forrester

The house cleaning continued in Owings Mills on Wednesday, as Bernard Pollard was handed his walking papers after two seasons in purple.

This departure, unlike that of Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, was clearly and comfortably the choice of John Harbaugh and the Ravens organization.  In simple terms, Pollard’s constant complaining and locker room blow-ups finally caught up to him.

That Pollard leaves a champion is a testament to his intensity and competitive fire.  He was an important part of the team that captured the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3.  Few players in the league hit with more tenacity.  The term “play like a Raven” was seemingly created with players like Bernard Pollard in mind.

With the good, though, came a lot of bad.  Pollard was a troublesome figure in the clubhouse, which is why he won’t be around in Baltimore next season.

“This wasn’t all about quality of play,” a source said on Wednesday after the news about Pollard’s termination went public.  ”It was about locker room tranquility and chemistry.”

While there wasn’t one single incident that doomed Pollard, a series of friction-filled events contributed to the club finally saying “enough is enough”.  The most notable of those was a post-game blow-up in Washington where the hard-hitting safety openly bashed linebacker Josh Bynes in front of the entire team and within earshot of several media members who were in the vicinity of the locker room setting up for post-game interviews.

“It was completely uncalled for,” said a 2012 teammate.  ”From a team standpoint, the last thing we needed that day was to have one guy pitting himself against someone else.  And to pick on Josh like that?  It was wrong.”

Pollard’s role in the bye-week practice fiasco is well known by now.  When Harbaugh suggested the team practice in pads on Wednesday before letting the team have off for the rest of the week, Pollard reacted angrily and rallied several teammates to demand a lighter, easier practice session.  To his credit, Harbaugh took the high road and gave in, deciding, apparently, that the battle wasn’t worth winning when the season was still very much in the balance.

“He was always complaining about something,” the teammate remembered.  ”Nothing was ever right in Bernard’s eyes.  After a while it got kind of old.  And a lot of guys in the locker are John Harbaugh fans.  Bernard was very anti-John and open about it. He didn’t really hide it.”

It’s one thing for a player to butt heads with the coach.  That happens all the time.  But, in this case, players – lots of them – were worn out by Pollard’s locker room antics and in-game reckless play that appeared to be more about the safety just doing things “his way” and not fitting in with the rest of the team.

(Please see next page)

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Pollard latest veteran to exit as Ravens part ways with safety

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Pollard latest veteran to exit as Ravens part ways with safety

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens made another difficult move on Wednesday morning in parting ways with veteran strong safety Bernard Pollard.

The 28-year-old defensive back announced via his official Twitter account that he was being let go after two years in Baltimore. Pollard was owed a $500,000 roster bonus later this week and carried a $3.25 million salary cap number for the 2013 season. His release will save $1 million in cap space.

“Well Raven Nation it’s been fun,” Pollard wrote. “My time in Baltimore is done… Thank you!”

Pollard was limited to 13 games last year as he dealt with cracked ribs over the course of the season. He finished with 98 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.

Looking with 20-20 hindsight, Baltimore tipped its hand by re-signing veteran backup James Ihedigbo to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Ihedigbo made three starts in place of Pollard last season.

A key free-agent addition after the NFL lockout ended in 2011, Pollard instantly became a fan favorite with his physical style of play, but the safety also drew criticism for his propensity to draw penalties for illegal hits. That said, his punishing — but legal — blow to Patriots running back Stevan Ridley in the AFC championship game was considered the turning point in the Ravens seizing complete control in their 28-13 win to advance to the Super Bowl.

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Perfectly imperfect Ravens show us all they were champions in end

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Perfectly imperfect Ravens show us all they were champions in end

Posted on 04 February 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — Even after witnessing the most incredible month in the history of the Baltimore Ravens, it’s still difficult to believe it all happened in the hours following their 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens have had better and more talented teams than this group that finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, good enough to win the AFC North but hardly anything to write home about. The offense and Super Bowl most valuable player Joe Flacco were exceptional at times this season but were maddeningly inconsistent as well. A defense regarded as one of the NFL’s finest for more than a decade was far from dominating due to age and a plethora of injuries, taking a significant step back as stars such as Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis missed significant time.

A three-game losing streak in the month of December that included the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron left the Ravens looking anything but “super” as they desperately searched for answers. Frankly, it was difficult to decide just how good they were — or even if they were at all.

Yet, there they stood on the on-field stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after winning the second NFL title in the 17-year history of the franchise. It wasn’t pretty as the Ravens nearly squandered a 22-point second-half lead, but they prevailed, earning the right to call themselves champions.

“It couldn’t end in a better way,” safety Ed Reed said. “The game was a display of the whole year. Started good, got ugly, ended great. Ended great.”

Perhaps the 35-minute power outage was the appropriate symbol of where the Ravens had been over the last six weeks. Just as a 28-6 lead evaporated as the San Francisco 49ers pulled to within two points with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Ravens appeared to be knocked out in December after suffering their third consecutive loss in a humiliating 34-17 final at home against the Denver Broncos in mid-December. At that point, the Ravens looked more like a team that might not win another game before regrouping to make the incredible run to New Orleans.

A 9-2 record that stood among the best in the NFL — even if many questioned the validity of that mark after several underwhelming wins — had fallen to 9-5, with many wondering if the Ravens were bursting at the seams with dissension. However, they stuck together, insisting all their goals still stood in front of them while fans and media alike wondered if they were finished. They were the truest form of a family, at least as close to one as a professional football team could be as players shared their faith and love for one another openly down the final stretch of the season.

“We had a lot of guys injured,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “But at the same time, the camaraderie within that the locker room — this is the closest team I’ve ever been on in my life. Like I said, we came together and fought the good fight.”

Yes, these Ravens were inspired by a returning Lewis in the postseason, but it was the play of Flacco that took them to new heights as the fifth-year quarterback was the best player in the NFL during the playoffs. His play and the improved offensive line after the reinsertion of Bryant McKinnie at the left tackle position were all new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell needed to propel the Ravens to new heights on that side of the football.

That offense looked as elite as ever in the first half on Sunday night, but the 49ers regrouped in slowing the Ravens’ passing attack while the running game remained a non-factor. Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense wilted, looking tired and lacking answers for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as he led San Francisco to three second-half touchdowns and a field goal.

As they had countless times throughout the season, the Ravens appeared on the ropes with the offense sputtering and Lewis’ once-mighty defense completely exhausted. But as savvy veteran teams often do, the Ravens had enough in them to make a few more plays to finish the job.

With the 49ers having three shots at the end zone from the 5-yard line and trailing 34-29 at the two-minute warning, the old Ravens defense made its final great stand with Lewis at the helm. The unit forced three incompletions to hand the ball back to the Baltimore offense. It was vintage Baltimore defense, even if that idea will take on new meaning beginning next years as the Ravens face life without Lewis leading the way.

The final stand was the end of an era with Lewis retiring and Reed potentially playing his final game with the Ravens. And in the context of this 2012 season, it was the last example of one unit — offense, defense, or special teams — picking up the others in crunch time.

“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal-line stand to win the Lombardi Trophy. As Ray said on the podium, how could it be any better than that?”

Harbaugh’s right. It was the only fitting way to end the perfectly imperfect season that included ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and trials and tribulations. Of course, the Ravens ended the year on the highest note of all in winning their first Super Bowl title since Jan. 28, 2001.

In a season in which we constantly asked the real Baltimore Ravens to stand up, we finally learned who they really were over the course of the last six week as Harbaugh and his team dusted themselves off from a miserable stretch in early December to start anew. They knew something the rest of us didn’t as the Ravens pulled off the unlikeliest of wins in Denver, exorcised the demons from a year ago in New England, and polished off their final act as a postseason underdog by turning the lights out — literally and figuratively — on the 49ers.

On Feb. 3, 2013, we finally figured out the only appropriate way to describe this unique football team after a season of struggling to find the proper words.

They were champions.

 

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Pollard, Ravens had concerns with hard turf at Tulane practice field

Posted on 31 January 2013 by WNST Staff

SAFETY BERNARD POLLARD

(on if he believes that the more physical team will win on Sunday) “I think so. I think with what we’re doing and with how we’re built, just with the characters that we have on both teams, that’s how it is. It’s going to be a war, and it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun for all of us. We’re at a moment right now where this experience is really a blessing for all of us. I know we can’t say it enough, we thank God for the position we’re in and I’m pretty sure they’re saying the same thing. But, on Sunday it’s going down.”

 

(on if he believes the team that delivers the first big hit will set the tone for the game) “You know what, it’s football. You’re going to have your ups and your downs all game long. It’s about who can outlast the other. It’s going to be so much fun. I just truly believe that the preparation this week, whoever prepares the best and whoever gets it done on Sunday, whoever is hitting on all cylinders, is going to win the game.”

 

(on if the game is going to be a ‘15-rounder’ as opposed to a quick knockout) “Yeah it’s going to be a long battle.  It’s the Super Bowl, and you don’t usually see many blowouts — not that often. It’s going to be fun.”

 

(on how the outdoor practice elements will affect the Ravens preparation and how it differs from the 49ers practicing indoors)  “No, it really doesn’t matter. We were running, we were cutting and we were getting our plays. It was beautiful; it actually cleared up. Tulane has been amazing. They’ve opened things up, and they’ve bent over backwards for us. We’re really appreciative. We had a great time. It’s the first time that I’ve ever seen a baseball diamond made of full turf. So that was a little awkward — for me at least. The preparation yesterday was outstanding; we’ve got to stack it again today.”

 

(on how he feels about the NFL possibly expanding the season to 18 games) “You’re dealing with some men who have never played football. Of course it’s a money making business. They’ve never played the game before. So obviously they can do some things and make some things happen if they want to, but it’s not their bodies that are taking a pounding and beating. Sixteen games are enough. I think all of us as players understand that we don’t want this thing to get any bigger. You go through things a lot in the 16 games, plus four preseason games, which is 20, and then you’ve got three or four playoff games. So you’re taking a pounding no matter what. Now you want to add onto that pounding—you talk about injuries now, it’s going to get worse.”

 

(on if the financial aspect of an 18-game schedule could persuade him to change his mind) “I really couldn’t care less about the money. We’re already going through it right now anyway. Like I said before, we as players know what we signed up for already, but at the same time, the whole expanded schedule would be very tough on our bodies. This is a physical game and a violent game already, and to expand it, to me and a lot of other players in this league, it doesn’t make any sense.”

 

(on if the Ravens can take anything from their 2011 game against the 49ers) “Last year’s game, that’s what it was – it was last year’s game on Thanksgiving. This team is more experienced. The coaches are seasoned, the players are seasoned, and to be honest with you, both teams were in the championship games last year and some things didn’t go our way and we lost. But you’re dealing with a team that’s trained, and they’re ready to go. They understand, and they’ve been in this position before. Right now we look at this situation, and we can’t look at the past and what we did against them last year. We have to understand that they’re ready to go. Like I said before, this is going to be a war and nobody has an advantage. I’m just being honest with you, nobody has an advantage. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to fight.”

 

(on O.J. Brigance) “O.J. has taught all of us not to take anything for granted. Just the little stuff that we complain about, whether it’s walking up the stairs, whether it’s having to come in early or whether it’s having to practice longer. You look at the little stuff that you complain about and O.J. has been fighting. He fights every day. I think for all of us, we’ve come to understand and appreciate the people that are in our lives. We’ve come to appreciate the things that are going on in our lives because in a split second it could be taken away from you. O.J. is the kind of guy who continues to show up at work every single day smiling, ready to go and always has a message. We’ve learned so much from him. I’ve been blessed to be around him and so are the other players. We’re so appreciative to be a part of this whole thing.”
(on how some of the setbacks and adversity have helped the Ravens grow as a team) “I think with anything that you go through, you always look at trials and tribulations to make you stronger. For us, we went through a lot of them. For players, period, you have to look at it as football is kind of like life that everybody else lives: you’re going to have your ups and downs and you’re going to have to put things behind you to make things work. You have to look at 53 men coming together — with 11 on offense, 11 on defense and 11 on special teams — to make one play happen and to continue to do that for 60 minutes.  The situations I think brought us closer together. Just the camaraderie with all of us has been a lot of fun. A lot of humbling experiences for the players and our coaches.  We were actually talking about this yesterday. One thing that I can do, I tip my hat to Coach (John) Harbaugh. He’s a great man and he’s a great coach. We’ve all been through it, we’ve seen it, we understand it and we’ve experienced it. Now it’s time to go make this thing happen on Sunday.”

 

(on if he was one of the members of the secondary who raised an issue about the turf during yesterday’s practice)  “I didn’t raise an issue. Coach Harbs (John Harbaugh) came to me about it and he asked me. It’s just kind of different as far as playing on that turf on the baseball diamond. Like we’ve said before, Tulane has been amazing, and they’ve bent over backwards for us. We can’t change what we’ve been doing. We had a great practice, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, guys with knee problems, ankle problems and all the other stuff, after practice and after the fact you don’t want to have to deal with that for the rest of the week and then try to have to clear all of that out of your system to have to go play on Sunday.”

 

(on some of the things that guys were feeling after yesterday’s practice on the turf) “Well a lot of guys actually iced up last night, got in the cold tub and everything else. Just so you don’t get the swelling or the fluid in the knees from pounding on the hard turf. Like I said, we are so appreciative of what Tulane has done for us, but at the same time, we have to get on surfaces that can (help us) continue to be successful all week long and (help) our preparation to be able to go and play full speed on Sunday.”

 

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Pollard ready to hit Kaepernick when he gets opportunity

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

SAFETY BERNARD POLLARD

 (on the uniqueness of preparing for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick) “You look at (Washington’s) Robert Griffin III, you look at Kaepernick and they’re very special talents.  They’re guys who can kill you with both their arm and their legs.  It goes back to being smart as a defense.  Everyone can’t try to do everyone else’s jobs.  If you do that, they’re going to find an opening.  We’ve had two weeks to prepare.  Anything that’s happened in the past doesn’t matter.  We just need to be sound and know what we’re doing.”

 

(on the legacy of Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome) “For us as football players, we always respect a guy who played the game, a guy who understands the game and a guy who was successful playing the game.  Then to have that guy come into the front office and run things is special.  Ozzie has done a great job.  He’s been successful in this organization and he continues to be successful.  He understands the players that he wants in his system.  He doesn’t necessarily want the best player in the draft.  Ozzie wants whoever is going to fit the system.  Ozzie and our scouting department have been great with that.”

 

(on playing for the Ravens) “This is as good as it gets.  I’ve been in two other organizations and it’s been great.  I started out in Kansas City with Lamar Hunt.  What a great man and one of the smartest dudes I’ve ever met in my life.  But Baltimore has been really freaking good to me.”

 

(on if the 49ers’ read-option offense is a fad) “You invest all of this money in a quarterback and you  put him out there on an island where when they start running, they’re no longer protected.  In the day and age that we’re playing in, they’re protected if they’re going to throw.  But if they are going to do all of this handing off and wanting to run, then they’re not protected.  You respect the talent that these guys (QB’s who run the read-option) have, but at the same time, they’re not built to take the hits.  You want to believe that their careers will last playing the read-option, but it’s not a reality.  But Colin Kaepernick is smart.  He knows when to get down, he knows when to get out.   The guy can run his tail off and he can throw the ball very well.  If we get the chance to hit him during the read-option stuff , we’ve got to take advantage of those shots.”

 

(on 49ers WR Randy Moss) “Randy is Randy.  That dude can stretch the field.  He has unbelievable hands.  He’s been successful his whole career.  Nobody doubts what he’s done.  Randy is an amazing talent.  He’s a veteran in that locker room who’s been there and who’s done that.  I’ve got nothing but respect for the man.”

 

(on people saying that with his style of play, he was born to be a Raven) “When you look at the style of defense that the Ravens have always played, and the players that they’ve had, you know it’s special.  When I got here, everybody embraced me.  So I thank God all the time for the position that I’m in to be around all of these characters.  These guys are unbelievable and we embrace each other and love each other.”

 

(on if he worries about being fined for hard hits with his style of play) “I don’t play thinking.  The way the league is trying to go, they want you to think about the hits and the shots and all of this other stuff.  It’s an offensive game and they’re trying to move it in a certain direction.  In Baltimore, we don’t roll that way.  We’re going to hit you.”

 

(on if he’d want his son to play football) “If my son wants to play when he gets older, we’ll have to let him test it out.  My son will be five tomorrow but I don’t want to groom him.   He sees Daddy play football all of the time. He’s very physical,  but I’d rather put a basketball or a golf club in his hands.   I’ve seen it, I’ve done it (football) and it’s tough, but it’s been good to my family.   At the same time, I don’t want to see my son go through the pain and all of the stuff that I’ve been through.  It would be very tough to watch my son go through it.”

 

(on if the recent Sports Illustrated report about Ray Lewis is a distraction) “We’re going to become tighter. We’ve been through this all year long.  We’re not going to worry about what somebody said.  We’re going to come together as a team.  We’re not going to allow anything to come in and mess up what we’ve got.  This is our time.  This is the Ravens’ time.  This is not anyone else’s time.  We’re going to enjoy it.  We’re not going to allow anyone else to come in and break us apart.”
 

(on teammate Haloti Ngata saying that Pollard is the team’s most high-maintenance player) “I’m not surprised.  My teammates tend to get upset with me because I carry my hand sanitizer, I carry my disinfectant wipes, my baby wipes. When you sneeze, I tell you to cover your mouth, and when you cough, I tell you to cover your mouth. If you pick your nose, I tell you not to touch me.  They don’t like that.  But that’s how I came up.  My Mom would yell at us if we drank out of someone else’s glass. It’s just one of those things where that’s how I grew up. That’s how my Mom raised and groomed us. But I’m starting to rub off on some of the guys.  Now you see some of them also with hand sanitizer in their pockets and everything else.  It’s like I’ve told my teammates.  We’ve got to be clean.  We’ve got to protect each other.  (joking) But some guys are disgusting – they ought to be ashamed on themselves.  The nastiest dudes on the team are Jah Reid, Arthur Jones and Terrell Suggs. I’m just teasing on those guys.”

 

(on the camaraderie of the team at the Super Bowl) “These are times that you can’t take away.  This is precious time.  This is why so many players love the locker room.  They love the atmosphere and the camaraderie with all of the guys.  It’s special and we enjoy it.”

 

(on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick) “If he runs, you’ve got to hit him.  He’s basically a running back who can throw the ball very well.  He’s showing people that he’s capable of playing in this league.  He’s able to win.  I think he’s started nine games.  His play says a lot about him.”

 

(on the past fines he’s incurred from the NFL for hits) “I’ve paid my fair share.  But I’m not going to stop playing the way I play. We’re supposed to get a form back telling us who we donated money to (with our fines), but that hasn’t happened.”

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Faltering against 49ers offense no option for Ravens

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Faltering against 49ers offense no option for Ravens

Posted on 30 January 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — After toppling two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks on their way to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, the Ravens defense now faces a different challenge entirely.

As unconventional as an offense comes in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers reinvented themselves in the second half of the season, utilizing the pistol read-option attack behind second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. A once-conservative offense that relied heavily on the shoulders of running back Frank Gore has now become a dynamic one, scoring a combined 73 points in playoff wins over Green Bay and Atlanta to give the 49ers their first Super Bowl berth in 18 years.

Whether the pistol formation is the latest flavor of the month or not is irrelevant as it pertains to Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, but coach John Harbaugh sees lasting appeal in the possibilities the formation provides. The Ravens certainly aren’t treating it like a gimmick after falling to a similar attack that was run by the Washington Redskins in Week 14.

“You can run your whole offense on it. You aren’t limited to an option type attack out of it,” Harbaugh said. “Not just the entire run game but the entire pass game as well. The backs get position to protect. You can run all your drop back stuff, you can run power run game inside and outside, and you can run read option, triple option. So it’s just a very versatile-type offense and it forces you to defend a lot of different elements of the offensive attack.”

The Ravens struggled against the Redskins’ version of the pistol formation, which featured Robert Griffin III, a shiftier runner than the bigger Kaepernick who relies more on his impressive straight-line speed. In the 31-28 overtime loss on Dec. 9, the Ravens allowed 179 rushing yards on 35 carries but were playing without linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Dannell Ellerbe.

San Francisco’s preference for getting Kaepernick to the edge will provide a challenge to Lewis, who struggles when trying to play outside the tackles, but the 37-year-old’s cerebral presence should offer a boost in trying to accomplish what opposing defenses have failed to do against Kaepernick since he took over for former Alex Smith in the middle of the season.

“A lot of people who played against them just never communicated at all,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “I believe that’s one of the advantages of what we have as a defense. We do a job of communicating real very well, whether you have the dive, whether you have the quarterback. It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals. You have to play it as a group. The only way to slow it down is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

A major key echoed by numerous defensive players has been patience in believing in individual assignments and carrying out jobs within the defense. Against Washington, the Ravens used unblocked defenders largely to attack the backfield, but staying under control and reacting to Kaepernick by forcing him to either hand off to the back or to keep the ball himself inside will be the wisest choice.

It’s a fine balance between being too aggressive and getting caught on your heels against a physical offensive line and talented running backs Gore and LaMichael James. The blocking angles and hand-offs from the pistol formation simply provide looks defenders aren’t familiar in dealing with on a weekly basis. Of course, an extra week of preparation will be beneficial to a Baltimore defense that was on the field extensively in its three playoff wins prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“You can’t force it. You’ve got to be patient,” linebacker Albert McClellan said. “You can’t be too patient though, so you have to kind of be on the edge. You’ve just got to have good eyes. Do your job — don’t try to do somebody else’s job. Once you miss your assignment, that’s when the triple-option and the pistol pretty much take advantage of you. You do your job and everybody’s assigned a man, things will work out.”

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will rely on rush linebacker Terrell Suggs and the combination of Courtney Upshaw, Paul Kruger, and Albert McClellan at the strongside linebacker position to maintain the edges, coaxing Kaepernick to settle for inside hand-offs to Gore and preventing the mobile quarterback from getting free into open space to utilize his great speed. The 49ers prefer to run behind left tackle Joe Staley when they aren’t rushing up the middle, which will put pressure on Suggs to make plays against the run like he did in the Denver game when he finished with 10 solo tackles.

Forcing Kaepernick to settle for the inside hand-off will put plenty of responsibility on the Baltimore defensive line, a unit that struggled much of the season due to injuries but has played well in the postseason. The Ravens contained a strong Denver running game and put pressure on Peyton Manning in the divisional round and hounded Tom Brady in the second half of the AFC Championship.

The combination of Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody at the nose tackle position will have a major chore in controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing Lewis and Ellerbe to clean up against Gore’s inside runs.

“Assignment football. Being where you are supposed to be without failure,” defensive line coach Clarence Brooks said. “Right gap, right responsibility on the run, right foot on the blocking schemes, disciplined pass-rushing lanes. Assignment football, being where you’re supposed to be and doing your job. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Even if the Ravens play their assignments to perfection, Kaepernick’s big-play ability may not be completely avoidable as he has proven to be a prolific passer, utilizing tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree with great effectiveness. Still, the second-year signal-caller’s legs are the biggest concern after the Ravens were able to handle two top — but also one-dimensional — passers in their last two wins.

“You get through it and everybody knows what to do, and then all of a sudden, the guy pulls the ball and is gone,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “You can’t really replicate that in practice as much as you would like to. That’s always a concern.”

As confident as the Baltimore defense is, the unit is preparing for an unfamiliar look. The similarities are there with Washington’s offensive attack, but the 49ers have a dangerous set of receivers in the passing game and a quarterback reaching an unparalleled level of success with only a half-season of starts under his belt.

The San Francisco offense may not strike fear into opponents’ hearts in the same way the Patriots and Broncos did this season, but the sight of Kaepernick escaping to the outside, looking to run or throw is a scary proposition standing in the way of the Ravens’ second Super Bowl title.

“If he runs, you’ve got to hit him,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “He’s basically a running back who can throw the ball very well. He’s showing people that he’s capable of playing in this league. He’s able to win.”

 

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Pollard not backing off comments about future of football

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

SAFETY BERNARD POLLARD

 

(on the feeling of preparing for the Super Bowl) “I feel pretty good, you know, a chance to wake up in New Orleans and be able to experience something like (Media Day), this is a good problem to have. You know, we’re all blessed. We’re all so thankful to be able to participate in this week, so for me and my teammates, we’re kind of enjoying everything right now. We’re excited to get back to practice tomorrow, so it feels good.”

 

(on if it is important for him to deal with distractions this week) “I just think for us all. We’ve got to be pros, we’ve got to be pros. All this stuff, you can have fun after the game. Until then, enjoy the situation and soak it in a little bit, but I think for the most part, we’re here to win the game. We’re playing against a team that’s going to give us their best shot on the biggest stage. I think for all of us, we’ve got to be tuned in. Preparation this week has to be outstanding, and we’ve got to be ready to play on Sunday.”

 

(on his comments during Monday’s media session regarding the future of football) “I stand by what I said. For me, I play this game so I understand the game. For me, growing up, you know, to see where the game has gone from then to now, this is a very special game, you know. We’re talking about so many different things, you know. They’re talking about taking kickoffs (out) and just playing offense and defense. Well, when that happens, you have guys losing their jobs: punters, long snappers, kickers, so how is that fair to them? We can’t change something that’s been built, because this is a business. Well, then you want to say tone down on the hits, but guys are getting bigger, stronger, faster year-in and year-out, and it’s not the equipment. It’s really not the equipment at all, because it doesn’t matter if you put a bigger helmet on me, it’s still going to be the same contact, so you keep playing football, you’re going to have the injuries. Nobody is exempt from that; you’re going to have the injuries. Things are going to happen: you’re going to have your concussions, you’re going to have your broken bones, everything else, but I think for the most part, we as football players know what we signed up for, and everybody’s saying, ‘Well, we’ve got to come up with these rules to ensure the league.’ You’ve got to understand what’s going on when people come back and sue the league, you know, it was some kind of breakdown in the medical system. That’s why these guys are coming back and doing what they do, and for the most part, you know, the insurance and everything else, the insurance is not picking up everybody. I don’t know, I’m just speaking, but a lot of times, these guys are just coming in when things weren’t handled properly.”

 

(on whether he will let his son play football) “My whole stance right now, this is my outlay, I would let him play the game. For us as fathers and mothers, we want our kids to have better than what we had, so that comes down to us setting up things later on in life and kind of prepping them as they grow. If he’s going to want to play, then I would let him play. I don’t want him to, but I would let him play, so he’s starting to see that he can kick the ball and everything else. It’s just hard; my son’s 4 years old. He’s seeing now, he wants to throw the ball around, he wants to be tackled, he wants to do all those things, so I see that. I see it in him. That’s one of the things that’s kind of hard to watch, and we talk about it all the time, but you know, it sucks because um, I don’t ever want to see my son (get hurt), and I know concussions happen, but just to see him go through it, the daily grind and the aches and the pains of the body and young injuries, I don’t want to see my son go through that.”

 

(on trying to reduce injuries) “I think, you know, it’s a car accident every play. From the linemen, you know, dealing with the offensive linemen and defensive linemen, that process is physical, you know, taking on the lead block and having to tackle down the field, those helmets and pads are popping. You can’t take away the intensity, and that’s part (of it). You’ve got grown men, this is a grown man’s game, and it’s one of those things where you’re going to feel it after the game. I think the emotions and everything else are high during the game, but after the game, you know, the next day, that’s (when you feel it).”

 

(on what the defense needs to do to have success against San Francisco and a mobile quarterback) “That goes to our defense playing sound. We have to, you know, approach this game, everybody has to play their area and their A-game, especially dealing with a quarterback like this who can kill you with his arm and with his legs. We have to be sound, we have to play great ball, and we cannot have mental mistakes. We can’t, you know, because I think watching film on this offense, whether it’s with Frank Gore, whether it’s with (LaMichael) James, whether it’s with (Colin) Kaepernick, these guys can kill you, and their offensive line is blocking their tail off. So, we just have to be sound, and if they run, we’ve got to tackle them.

 

-more-

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 

QUOTES FROM BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA DAY

 

MORE SAFETY BERNARD POLLARD

 

(on the intensity of Baltimore’s defense) “I enjoy this game. Me and my teammates enjoy it, so we’re the Baltimore Ravens and we’re going to give you our best shot. We know, we understand we’re going to get everybody’s best shot, but I think for us, we play with a certain edge, and that’s something that everybody knows about Baltimore: the defense is going to play with an edge and that’s something that we continue to do.”

 

(on what football has meant to him besides financial gain) “Well, I think it’s one of those things where it teaches you discipline, it teaches you responsibility, because you’re not, it’s no longer about you. It’s about high school, college, however many guys are on the team, and it’s about all of them. You have to think about them before you want to make certain decisions, coaches that you come across in pee wee, metro, middle school, high school, college, you know it’s just about those relationships, and for me, it’s about me, you know, that I have to be more responsible. I have to be disciplined as a man, as a father and as a husband, you know, and I think so many people, the game of football, you get a small window to play this game. Life is so much bigger than this, and we as players and coaches and media, we make this game harder than what it is. It’s still a game. It really is. It’s still a game, you know. We are men, and life is so much greater than this.”

 

(on how Baltimore bounced back after its loss to Houston to make a run to the Super Bowl) “Well, I know (the loss) was hard for our team. As far as going through everything that we’ve gone through this year, with every individual man, we know when you step in the locker room, everybody has their own agenda, everybody has problems, and it comes to checking it at the door. We’ve gone through some things with players and everything else, but I think it’s coming together as a team and understanding that, you know, you’re going to lose some games, but you’ve got to come together as a team. If you want to go where we say we want to go, and that was New Orleans (for the Super Bowl), we have to pull together, you’ve got to put everything else behind you. You’ve got to get through it; we had injuries, we’ve got to get everybody back, and I think the loss to Houston, the three or four losses, you know, the streak we went on to (end the regular season). Like I’ve told so many people, some of our players, everyone, it wasn’t just getting to the Super Bowl, (it is) winning it.”

 

(on the way coach John Harbaugh handled comments from players) “I think that tells you a lot about Coach Harbaugh, you know, to stand there in front of 60-plus guys and listen to things and what we had to say. That wouldn’t have happened in a lot of other organizations, so for Coach Harbaugh to stand there and do that, it just said a lot about his character, and like I continue to say, it was a humbling experience for all of us. We all were humbled, and sometimes it takes you to be knocked down to be in the position that we’re in right now, and we got knocked down, but we came together and we’re sitting here today.”

 

(on how special it is for receiver Jacoby Jones to play in his hometown of New Orleans and if he had some of the food cooked by Jones’ mother) “That’s the first thing, you know, we’re blessed to have this experience, and to be in the hometown of one of our players, you know, ‘Momma Jones’ has been great, you know, she hooked us up, and that just tells you the love that she has for players, for her son. The food was amazing.”

 

(on trying to make this week as normal as any during the regular season) “It’s a good problem to have. You look at so many teams that would love to be where we’re at. It’s just going to be a blessing, and if we have to deal with this every year, I’m OK with that. This has been an experience for all of us. It really is, and we’re blessed to play in a Super Bowl game, but we have to, we can’t lose sight of (our goals from) just being here. We have to prepare, as far as practice. Our practice has to be great, and we have to get ready to win a game on Sunday. We can’t just be excited for being here.”

 

(on overcoming adversity) “It’s been crazy. It honestly has. It’s been crazy, battling injury, battling you know, individual problems, and I think we all had to eat some humble pie, and we ate it. It sucked, but we ate it, and that kind of put everything back into perspective for us all as a team, and we’re sitting here now.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Nate Solder called for holding, negating Danny Woodhead 4 yard run on 3rd & 2 (3rd quarter)

4. Stephen Gostkowski 25 yard field goal after Patriots called third timeout (2nd quarter)

3. Tom Brady pass intended for Wes Welker incomplete on 3rd & 8 from Baltimore 34 (3rd quarter)

2. Dannell Ellerbe intercepts Tom Brady pass intended for Aaron Hernandez, tipped by Pernell McPhee (4th quarter)

1. Arthur Jones recovers Stevan Ridley fumble forced by Bernard Pollard (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 20 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game to clinch a trip to Super Bowl XLVII…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Jim Caldwell

4. Pernell McPhee

3. Marshal Yanda

2. Bernard Pollard

1. Joe Flacco (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have made no secret about their satisfaction in seeing the New England Patriots once again on the same stage in which they fell painfully short last January.

With few believing they could reach their second straight AFC Championship game after being left for dead just a few weeks ago, the Ravens are embracing the opportunity but also know the truth about Sunday’s game in Foxborough. The game they’ve worked toward over the last 12 months only has one acceptable outcome in their eyes.

“Nothing matters unless we’re going to win in New England this weekend,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Then we’re back to the same position we were in last year.”

As compelling as their run has been to watch, the same man is once again standing in the way of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2000 season. While the Ravens were finally able to topple Peyton Manning, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has goals of his own, mainly atoning for last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The most successful quarterback of this generation, the 35-year-old hasn’t won a championship since the 2004 season and has twice fallen in the Super Bowl since then.

Leading the top-ranked offense in the NFL in yards and points scored, Brady will try to do what Manning couldn’t do in Denver last Saturday. And the Baltimore defense will try to pick up where it left off in the divisional round when it held Denver’s explosive offense to just seven points in the second half after the Broncos returned a kickoff for a touchdown to begin the third quarter.

Even with every reason to be confident, the Ravens know that Brady will be waiting and ready after the Patriots scored 41 points against a tough Houston defense last week.

“He is a smart guy. We all know that is the reason he is probably a Hall of Fame quarterback,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “He is smart with the ball. He makes great decisions. He looks for matchups, and we have to just go out there and make plays.”

The Ravens’ multiple-look defense has given Brady difficulty over the years compared to most units as the Patriots were held to just 23 points in last year’s AFC Championship. The New England offense fared better in the Ravens’ 31-30 win in Week 3, but Brady acknowledges how difficult it is to play against a unit led by Lewis and free safety Ed Reed. In five career regular-season games against the Ravens, Brady has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions and has posted an 83.3 passer rating, a modest mark for such a decorated quarterback. He has posted worse ratings against only four other teams over the course of his 13-year career.

His playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10, 2010 was the worst performance of his postseason career as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the 33-14 final.

Of course, the Baltimore defense hasn’t been the dominating unit this year that it was for more than a decade, but the Ravens were able to create pressure and force Manning into mistakes in the second half as the Denver quarterback turned the ball over three times in defeat. Instead of their simple “bend, but don’t break” performance, the defense made countless big plays in the second half to keep Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense within striking distance.

“It’s not like you beat this team 50-0,” Brady said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always a tight game, there’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads, because schematically they do quite a few things.”

The discussion last week centered around the countless chess matches between Lewis and Manning, but the Ravens’ battles against Brady have been just as compelling. New England won’t hesitate to use the no-huddle offense and quick snaps on occasion to catch the Ravens on their heels, especially after Baltimore played a total of 174 plays and 77:38 on defense over the last two weeks.

The Ravens take pride in disguising their schemes and changing up coverages, the latest example coming on Denver’s final offensive play when cornerback Corey Graham and Lewis flipped coverage on wide receiver Brandon Stokley and baited Manning into throwing a critical interception. However, New England will try to use similar tactics in hopes of creating a mismatch with its wide array of offensive weapons.

“They switch it up. When they make plays, they hurry up to the line, and they speed the game up on guys,” Graham said. “If you’re not ready, if you’re not prepared for it, it will catch you off guard. They have been catching a lot of guys off guard, a lot of guys not set up and prepared for the play.”

Even when the correct matchups are identified, defensive backs and linebackers must play disciplined as Brady will try to look off receivers and make defenders pay for the softer coverage they typically employ to prevent the big play. The Patriots also won’t hesitate to go against the grain such as when they sent backup Shane Vereen deep on a 33-yard touchdown out of the backfield against the Texans.

The Ravens’ best chance in slowing Brady is to make him uncomfortable in the pocket like they did to Manning in the second half in Denver, but even then, the task in the secondary is daunting against the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field — an area in which the pass defense has been vulnerable all year. In many cases, the ball simply comes out too quickly to get to the veteran signal-caller when he employs three-step drops.

“We have to have great eyes. We can’t stare him down in the secondary,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We have to be on our men. They have great receivers and running backs. We have to go out there and play our game.”

Unlike past seasons when playing the Patriots, the Ravens must also account for the New England running game as starter Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season. The offense is one-dimensional as it’s been in the past when you could simply count on Brady to throw it 50 times with an ineffective rush offense behind him.

The Ravens were clearly content in keeping plays in front of them against the Broncos, evident by using Reed and Pollard in two-deep coverage for much of the game, but it will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Dean Pees dials up against New England. Brady attempted only 19 passes that traveled more than 30 yards in the air all season and lacks the deep threats that the Broncos possessed in both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but the Patriots are never afraid to change things up.

Baltimore is in store for another chess match, again playing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. And while the Ravens have been described as a team on a mission, there’s no arguing that the Patriots are motivated to not only get back to the Super Bowl but to finish the job after last year’s narrow loss.

Even though the Ravens beat the Patriots in the postseason three years ago and were one end-zone catch away from doing it again last season, they also know Brady is 5-1 in conference title games. As was the case last week, it won’t be easy to survive and advance for the underdog Ravens.

“That does not scare us,” Pollard said. “We’re going to go out, and we want to outhit you and outplay you and we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

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