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Bernard Pollard calls entering into Patriots history once again ‘just a coincidence’ 01.21.13 at 12:06 am ET
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Bernard Pollard made his presence felt against the Patriots once again, Sunday night. (AP)

Bernard Pollard made his presence felt against the Patriots once again, Sunday night. (AP)

Bernard Pollard managed to add to his already-lengthy history with the Patriots in his Ravens’ 28-13 AFC championship win over the Patriots on Sunday night in Foxboro.

Pollard was first introduced into Patriots lore when his tackle of Tom Brady in the 2008 season-opener ended the quarterback’s season due to a torn knee ligament.

Then, in ’10, the safety was credited with the tackle when Wes Welker tore up his knee in the final game of that season.

Last year it was a tackle of Rob Gronkowski in the AFC title game, hampering the tight end heading into the Super Bowl with a high ankle sprain.

This time, Pollard left his mark via a fourth-quarter hit of Pats running back Stevan Ridley with 12:55 in the game and hosts trailing by eight. The head-to-head tackle forced a game-changing fumble, while driving Ridley from the game with a head injury.

“It’s just a coincidence, I guess,” said Pollard when asked how he keeps finding himself involved in these Patriots’ injuries.

Talking about the specific hit to Ridley, which ultimately resulted in another Baltimore touchdown four plays later, Pollard said, “He got loose and for me as a safety, and for us as safeties, our job is to take down a guy. If you get to our level we have to hit you and I got a chance to kind of unload. In the moment we’re competitive, but right now we have to hope he’s OK.”

The Ridley fumble would be reviewed, but referee Bill Leavy upheld the decision, handing the Ravens the ball at New England’s 39 yard-line.

“What I saw was the receiver was going to the ground, had both legs off the ground, no body part was on the ground,” said Leavy in a pool report. “The ball hit his knee and dislodged from his hand before the rest of his body hit the ground, therefore it was a fumble and we confirmed it.”

“This is what it’s about, playing football, going out there hitting hard,” Pollard added. “We know what we signed up for. Anybody can drop on any play. It’s just about going and executing. When it’s all said and done, we want those guys to be OK and I hope [Ridley] is good.”

While Pollard was fairly diplomatic when it came to discussing the latest of his controversial plays against the Patriots, he was a bit more pointed when asked about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s slide at the end of the second quarter.

Brady finished off a three-yard run by sliding down the Baltimore 7 yard-line in front of Baltimore safety Ed Reed. At the conclusion of the play, the QB lifted his leg, allowing for Brady’s foot to hit Reed in the upper-leg.

“You have to keep them legs down,” Pollard said. “We all know and understand what’s going on. As a quarterback when you go to slide we’re taught we can’t do anything. We kind of run it off. But when you come sliding, with your leg up in the air trying to kick somebody, that’s bullcrap. We talked to the ref. They saw it. You can’t deny it.”

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James Harrison, Ryan Clark say Patriots got what they deserved 02.05.12 at 11:29 pm ET
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Taking to Twitter after the Patriots’ 21-17 Super Bowl loss to the Giants Sunday night, both James Harrison and Ryan Clark of the Steelers brought up “Spygate,” suggesting New England didn’t deserve to win.

Harrison initially tweeted: Told you, cheaters never win!!!!!!!!!

Clark then followed up with a tweet reading: 0-2 post spy gate! Just saying!! Can’t spell ELIte w/o Eli! Night my friends!

Harrison retweeted Clark’s comments, adding, Ditto goodnight!

When @CroweKnows tweeted to both players, saying, Big talk from a defense that lost to Tim Tebow…. Clark responded by tweeting Not Brady though, which was followed by Harrison tweeting True.

James Harrison's tweet

Ryan Clark's tweet

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A week in Indianapolis (video): Lightning may come out of Tom Coughlin’s fingertips 02.04.12 at 11:02 pm ET
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An anatomy of a spike: How Rob Gronkowski came to deliver his signature celebration 02.02.12 at 11:54 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski waited a long time to show off his stuff when it came to spiking. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — It doesn’t classify as Grade A Super Bowl trash talk, but Ahmad Bradshaw has issued something of a challenge.

“I like Gronk,” the Giants running back told WEEI.com Thursday, “but I think I can beat him out.”

Before thoughts of guaranteed victories, or even touchdown predictions, enter into the conversation, understand what Bradshaw was referring to — spiking a football.

While the declaration might not seem like much, when you consider how Rob Gronkowski’s execution of celebrating each touchdown is revered around the NFL, Bradshaw’s claim qualifies as a big deal. As teammate Ryan Mallett explains it, “When Gronk spikes, the ground shakes. You can feel it from the sidelines. It’s nuts. I’ve never seen a human being do that.”

Adds Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins, “You see a lot of guys spike the ball, and then you see Rob spike it and it’s totally different. I think he hit a cameraman recently.”

When listening to Gronkowski explain how the practice of spiking the ball evolved, it’s understandable that such exuberance is behind each scoring punctuation.

“It started when I got to the NFL,” Gronkowski explained. “I always wanted to do it in a game but you couldn’t do it in high school or college because of the rules, so I finally got to do it in the NFL. It felt good. It was pretty cool.”

That first celebration came on Aug. 26, 2010, when the then-rookie tight end hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady with 1:52 left in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Rams. Gronkowski broke free of his euphoric teammates and let fly his first-ever spike.

“I just knew,” Gronkowski said. “When I finally had a chance to do it, I was doing it. I wasn’t thinking twice.”

Of course, since then the tight end has let loose with approximately 30 spikes, perfecting his craft with each display of force.

“Sometimes I’m glad I’m a lineman, way behind the play. It’s funny when you see him spike it, you see the referee or [Wes] Welker duck away. It’s pretty amazing the way he does it,” Mankins said. “He was good out of the gate, but he’s gotten better the way guys duck for cover when he’s getting ready to do it.”

“I would say so,” said Gronkowski when asked if he had improved. “I know how to tilt a ball to make it go in a direction.”

While it’s debatable if Gronkowski has any peers in the NFL when it comes to spiking, the 22-year-old said he has the market cornered when it comes to competing against those who saw the first wave of spikes — his brothers.

“That wouldn’t be a challenge,” he said. “I would destroy them.”

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Kurt Warner believes Patriots-Rams Super Bowl might have been different if played today 02.01.12 at 12:23 pm ET
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Kurt Warner said his team's Super Bowl loss might have been different in this day and age of the NFL. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS – Evidently, Super Bowl XXXVI still sticks in the craw of Kurt Warner.

The former Rams’ quarterback, whose team suffered a 20-17 defeat to the Patriots in one of the biggest upsets in professional sports history, told a small group of reporters while visiting the Giants’ hotel that things might have been different if the two teams played in this era of the NFL.

Warner surmised that the defensive strategy used by the Patriots on Feb. 3, 2002 would not have worked in this day and age of officials cracking down on teams defending the passing game.

“No. No,” said Warner when asked if the Patriots’ physical style of defense during that Super Bowl could be used in the present-day NFL. “With the rules now … I say no, but, again, it would have come down to the officials having to make the calls. But even with what they did then I don’t know if it was, quote-unquote, legal from the standpoint of the rulebook. But they were pushing the envelope, but, again, I give them credit because you knew if you were going to beat us that’s what you had to do, you had to push the envelope. You had to say, ‘We’re going to beat them until somebody tells us it’s illegal and throws a flag and if they don’t, keep doing it.’

“I think it would have been more difficult because there’s more emphasis on that part of things. I look at plays now and I say, ‘Really? That’s pass interference?’ It still surprises me when a guy gets banged, or a little hand on him here. But that’s the nature of where the game has come. I think it would have been much more difficult in this day and age to play that way, or play that way as long as they did. But, again, I give them because it was the right plan against us and it worked in their favor.”

Warner did go out of his way to applaud how the Patriots’ managed to slow down one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.

“The Patriots, I give them credit,” he said. “I think they went into that game saying ‘We’re going to beat those guys up. We’re going to hold them. We’re going to scratch. We’re going to claw. We’re going to do everything we can until the officials force us not to.’ I think the one we all know is that the officials do not want to dictate the Super Bowl. The officials do now want to throw a bunch of flags in the Super Bowl that will change complexion of the game. And that’s what they did. We knew if you were going to stop us that’s what you were gong to have to do. You were going to have to knock our timing off. They did a tremendous job of doing that and it wasn’t until later in the game where we started getting a few calls and they had to loosen up a little bit and we started success. There’s no question in what they did in their game plan was key, especially early in that game, to get us out of rhythm and make the plays they needed to win.”

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Super Bowl video diary: Planes, zip lines, Ines Sainz, Vic the Brick help the countdown 01.31.12 at 8:25 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The journey through Super Bowl Week has begun, and WEEI.com will help you taste all the flavor. The following is the first peek into the world of all things Indy …

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Press Conferences: Devin McCourty talks evolution of Patriots’ defensive backfield 01.30.12 at 7:29 pm ET
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Patriots' defensive back Devin McCourty talks with the media Monday. (AP Image)

INDIANAPOLIS — Here is the transcript from Patriots’ defensive back Devin McCourty’s press conference Monday (courtesy NFL media relations):

(on how the first practice went) “It was good. Everybody got a chance to get out there and get after it. We ran around. We practiced hard. It was a good first day. We felt like we wanted to come out here and practice hard to start off the week. This was an important day to just kind of set the tone.”

(on if he feels fortunate that he got to the Super Bowl in just his second season) “Definitely. Just talking to the other guys on our team and other friends that I have made that are veterans, to be at this level in only my second year, you have got to be grateful for it. I think the biggest thing, is just trying to take advantage of the opportunity of being here – working hard, studying hard and getting ready to go for this game.”

(on how difficult it will be to face the Giants’ wide receivers) “It’s a very difficult challenge. I think it all starts with their offense, how balanced they are with a good running game, a good quarterback and they have three very good weapons outside at receiver. We are really going to have to prepare and come to play, because any of the three of those guys are capable of having big games.”

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