The New England Patriots trailed 21-13 in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game and were driving when Bernard Pollard all but sealed a Baltimore Ravens' victory. The safety knocked out Stevan Ridley with a devastating hit that spun the running back like a top and caused a fumble. The Ravens recovered and Joe Flacco threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin four plays later to put the game away.
Ridley was asked recently on ESPN's "NFL Live" what he remembers about the play.
"Being completely honest, not much man," Ridley said. "Running the football, unfortunately it's what comes with the sport that we play. It's a contact sport. He just came down and made a play, tried to make a physical tackle, and that's what he did.
"Unfortunately it was me. You hate it any time to see a player go out like that, but it was me this time. All I can say is that I can bounce back and I live to see another day. And I'm thankful."
These are the plays that bring the topic of player safety to the forefront for conversations. Pollard wasn't maliciously head-hunting, but there was helmet-to-helmet contact when Ridley dipped his head. It was the kind of football play that is all but impossible to avoid. Still, Ridley was concussed and we know the affects those can have.
It was the kind of play that makes parents hesitant to let their kids play the game, but is an inherent part of the game.
"I play this game, I love the game that I play, man," Ridley said. "People try to downplay it; it's a contact sport. You can't be scared playing this game. We all try to be as healthy as we can and try to stay away from injuring each other. At times, it's going to happen. So all we can do is pat each other on the back and keep moving, and I wish the best for the Ravens and also Bernard Pollard, man."