Penalized for his illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, Ravens veteran strong safety Bernard Pollard said his aiming point was intended to be lower.
However, Pollard's helmet made contact with Wayne's facemask. That triggered a 15-yard penalty in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 24-9 AFC wild-card victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Wayne was unhurt, but it was a crushing blow in the fourth quarter from Pollard, who's now in jeopardy of receving a hefty fine from the league office later this week.
"Reggie lowered his head," Pollard told The Baltimore Sun. "We, as defensive players, we're locked in. We're going full-speed. So, it will be interesting to see what they do. That's hard for us as defensive players to try to manage where we're going. It was my helmet that grazed his facemask. It was incidental. He lowered his helmet. It was nothing intentional."
Ravens free safety Ed Reed acknowledged that Pollard had erred, but indicated he was in a difficult position.
"It was a late play," Reed said. "It looked like maybe he was a little high. Maybe the back of his helmet caught the back of Reggie's helmet. I know he means well, but this game is so bang-bang. It's the playoffs, and you're playing to win.
"It's a tough thing to police that. Those calls are definitely going to affect the game. Rules are rules, and we have to play a certain way."
Two plays later, Pollard was penalized for taunting as he got into a verbal altercation with a Colts assistant coach and players.
"That coach called me a [expletive, expletive,]" Pollard said. "I said something back and their player pushed me. It's football, man."
After that penalty, Pollard was removed from the game temporarily by the Ravens to get him to calm down. Ravens coach John Harbaugh took Pollard aside and tapped his finger to his head to tell him to be smart and avoid confrontations before sending him back into the game.
"The coaches told me to chill out for a minute," Pollard said. "I'll be all right."