Benched Stevan Ridley shoulders blame

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley didn't shy away from his mistakes following the team's 23-21 season-opening win against the Buffalo Bills.

After fumbling in the second quarter, Ridley was benched for the balance of the game, leading to an increased workload for fellow third-year player Shane Vereen. Ridley had another near fumble in the first quarter, but the officials ruled he was down just before losing the ball.

"It was pretty obvious, man, you can't have two turnovers in one game and expect to stay in," he said. "The coaches had to do the best move for the team and make sure we won this game, and they picked the players that they went with and we rolled through and we're lucky to pull out the win like we did."

For Ridley, the ball-handling problems were shades of seasons past, as he put the ball on the ground four times in 2012, losing two of those fumbles. Ball security has been an area of focus for the 2011 third-round pick.

"I'm not going to sit on the past," Ridley said. "I just have to accept where I messed up, made a mistake and grow from it. That's really all you can do, having to point the finger, come back to work tomorrow. I hate it, it's unfortunate, but, you know, it's part of the game of football and I'm going to have to keep working, keep driving and pushing forward. We've got 15 more weeks in front of us and I'm going right back to work."

As he attempts to move forward from the turnover, Ridley said he'll rely on a lesson he learned when working through the same issue in previous seasons.

"I never get too high and I never get too low, just kind of stay at even-keel," he noted. "This was the first game today of the 2013 season, and all the hype before this and what happened last year, I think it just goes to show you, things can change day-to-day. So coming in, having two turnovers, I can't be on anybody but myself."

In relief duty of Ridley, Vereen stepped up to the plate, carrying 14 times for 101 yards, the first 100-plus yard rushing effort of his career. He provided the Patriots a spark during their fourth-quarter come-from-behind win.

Whether that outing will thrust Vereen into a more prominent role remains to be seen, but Ridley said he's ready to work to earn his job back.

"Absolutely," he said before later adding. "I'm not complaining about it. Just keep grinding."