Pollard's hit on Brady now illegal

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Tom Brady won't get his lost season back, but the NFL has clarified its roughing-the-passer rules to include the hit that wrecked the New England Patriots quarterback's left knee.

On opening day last year, Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard tried to fight through a Sammy Morris block and lunged into Brady's knee as the ball was thrown.

NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira explained Tuesday afternoon at the St. Regis Hotel, site of the annual owners' meeting, that rules have been clarified to classify Pollard's hit as roughing the passer for a hit below the knee.

"If you go to the ground, you can't forcibly lunge," Pereira said.

Pereira said the quarterback "has a strike zone from the shoulder to the knees" where all hits are allowable. But below the knee, a defender cannot lead with his helmet or shoulder. That will be a 15-yard penalty.

Pereira did say defenders may wrap up or swipe at a quarterback's lower legs to bring him down.