The fallout from Ed Reed’s overturned one-game suspension continues Wednesday, with fellow Ravens safety Bernard Pollard making the most poignant remarks about the NFL’s punitive system towards defenders and vowing to have no mercy on quarterbacks who run to the sideline from now on.
Reed was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty in a 13-10 win vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, his third in three seasons, that resulted in him being banned from the Ravens’ facilities all week and missing Sunday’s game at the San Diego Chargers. But the appeals process reduced the penalty to a $50,000 fine Tuesday and he'll be allowed to play.
Pollard was still ticked about his missed the tackle on Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, and blamed it in large part on the NFL’s rules that have especially made hard hits near the sideline taboo.
Leftwich ran toward the sideline and appeared to be heading out of bounds. He then turned up field to complete a 31-yard touchdown run to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead.
The Ravens were able to come back to win, but the play was a microcosm of the difficulty defensive players. The rules are slanted toward offenses, and Pollard, who has had a few unnecessary roughness penalties this season, tried to pull up as he anticipated a flag.
"I don’t want to make an excuse, but it is getting tougher for us as defensive players. Anytime we play this game and think (too much) that’s when all kind of bad things are going to happen. I thought he honestly was going out of bounds," Pollard said. "He started going that way and then he turned upfield. …
"We laughed at it because obviously we got the win. Those are things where now if a quarterback’s going to the sideline and I got a chance I swear to you I’m going to kill 'em."
Of course, Pollard was speaking figuratively. But Reed’s penalty came on a hit after Emmanuel Sanders made a 20-yard catch in Ravens territory. Sanders was going toward the sideline, too, but he was still inbounds.
Pollard took aim at Commissioner Roger Goodell, who he contends has boxed himself into a corner with so many rules that don’t take into account such predicaments for defenders, or when an offensive player ducks his head to avoid contact and actually creates the helmet-to-helmet hits.
"You want bigger, faster, stronger, quicker guys every single year…but then you set up these rules that say, ‘We’re not going to allow that.’ You can’t do anything. You honestly can’t," Pollard said. "He knows and understands that he controls this. He has more power than is needed. I understand that it might be a tough position for him to be in at times but he signed up for it. He knew the potential problems he could face.
"We got to stand up as defensive players because we’re at a disadvantage from the get-go. …When they’re reacting and ducking their heads, you can’t blame us for that. There needs to be a fine line. … It needs to be another person’s decision to say, ‘That wasn’t an illegal hit.’ You’re putting doctors on the sideline, you got review officials and everything else."