Ravens' Bernard Pollard Hurts the Patriots' Super Bowl Chances Yet Again

Oliver ThomasContributor IJanuary 24, 2012

Bernard Pollard hasn't made many friends in New England.
Bernard Pollard hasn't made many friends in New England.Al Bello/Getty Images

In three different seasons, Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has made a significant impact on the New England Patriots' Super Bowl hopes.

Pollard's team-high 12 tackles during Sunday's AFC Championship Game were overshadowed by one play he made on the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, a play that left the All-Pro tight end's left ankle seriously injured.

During the third quarter of New England's 23-20 victory, Gronkowski hauled in a pass from quarterback Tom Brady and was awkwardly pulled to the ground by Pollard. The 16-yard catch soon became irrelevant for Pats fans once they realized that No. 87 wasn't getting up.

Instantly, horrible flashbacks infiltrated the minds of Patriots Nation.

In recent years, a few devastating injuries have cut promising seasons for the Patriots short. Who was it that contributed to all the terrible anguish?

Bernard Pollard.

It was Pollard who hit Tom Brady in the knee when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. On that play during the season opener four years ago, Brady tore his ACL and MCL, collectively ending the season for both him and the Patriots.

In a Week 17 game between the Patriots and the Houston Texans during the 2009-2010 NFL season, Pollard was playing for the Texans. When Pats receiver Wes Welker tore his ACL and MCL, who was it that tackled him?

Bernard Pollard.

These three injuries over the past four years have given Pollard the nickname "Patriots Killer."

After limping off to the locker room during Sunday's game versus the Ravens, Gronkowski surprised everyone when he returned in the fourth quarter. However, the Arizona alum did not record another catch.

According to Ian Rapoport of The Boston Herald, Gronkowski's left ankle has ligament damage, and the tight end is wearing an ankle boot. Despite the severity of the injury, Gronkowski has two weeks to recover, and should be ready to play for the Lombardi Trophy.

"I'll take it day by day and everything, and obviously try to get back onto the field as fast as possible," a resilient Gronkowski said after Sunday's win.

Nevertheless, Pollard has put a dent in another season for the Pats and is officially considered a pariah in New England.

Pollard spoke on KILT, a Houston talk radio show, and seemed unfazed by his reputation as a "Patriots Killer."

"That's fine and dandy. It's part of the game," he said. "If you don't like it, so what? I am going to go out there and I'm going to play me." 

When the Patriots face the New York Giants in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLV, Gronkowski's ankle will play a pivotal role in the game. If they win, maybe Pollard's stigma will disappear. If they lose, the infamy will live on.

Who's Pollard rooting for?

"I hope the Giants put a thrashing on the Patriots, I really do," Pollard said.

Perhaps the three injuries are a coincidence, but Pollard's strong dislike for New England certainly is not.