Following a nasty hit from Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was forced to exit Sunday's AFC Championship game, according to the Patriots' Twitter account:
#Patriots Injury Update: Ridley sustained a head injury & will not return to the game. Talib remains questionable to return.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 21, 2013
The vicious hit took place in the fourth quarter on a 1st-and-10 for New England's offense
With the Patriots trailing 21-13, Ridley was demolished by Pollard and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Ravens. The turnover resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin to put the Ravens ahead 28-13.
Prior to the injury, Ridley had rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries. The Patriots offense took an immense hit when Ridley exited the game.
In his first season as New England's starter, Ridley had a career season, rushing for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season.
With Ridley leading the rushing attack, the Patriots offense boasted another dimension. The improved running game took some pressure off of Tom Brady and his receiving corps.
Ridley posted four 100-yard rushing days during the regular season and was a big contributor in New England's divisional round win over the Houston Texans, rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown.
For now, we know that Ridley won't be returning to the game. We will keep you updated as the information becomes available.
Follow me on Twitter: Follow @Pete_Schauer