FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Stevan Ridley lost his third fumble in as many games Sunday night, putting it on the ground on the Patriots’ first drive and watching the Broncos’ Von Miller pick it up and take it into the end zone for the first points of the game.
Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard got his helmet on the ball while tackling Ridley, knocking it loose. It was the last play of the night for Ridley, who took off his helmet and slammed it to the ground on the sideline.
“For me, it’s almost disgusting, man,” he said in the locker room after the Patriots’ come-from-behind 34-31 overtime victory. “Consecutive weeks. Personally, as a player, my team deserves better. I come in, I work, bust my a-- every day. To come in and have the same mistakes happen, there’s something I gotta do different, I gotta do better. As a competitor all I can do is come in here and keep working. ... I just gotta be there for the team when they call me.”
How often the team calls his name going forward is in doubt. He leads the Patriots with seven rushing touchdowns and there’s no question he has lead-back ability, but Bill Belichick isn’t going to lean on a back who fumbles as much as Ridley has.
“When I put the ball on the ground, they have no option but they take me out. It’s sickening, man,” Ridley said. “I’m frustrated, but it’s part of the game. I think that as a player, you’re going to have your ups and your downs, but the main thing is you have to stay focused and keep your eye on the prize at the end of the day. I’m not going to get too far down. I’m going to put more pressure on myself to go out there and practice and change up some things. I can't keep doing this.”
Ridley was far from the only player with butterfingers on a frigid, windy night at Gillette Stadium. There were a total of 11 fumbles in the game, including on each of the Patriots’ opening three drives, all recovered by the Broncos. Running back LeGarrette Blount put it on the ground in the first quarter as well. Like Ridley, he too spent the rest of the game on the sideline, leaving the running back duties to Shane Vereen (8 catches for 60 yards, 10 carries for 31 yards) and Brandon Bolden (13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown).
“We did some things and shot ourselves in the foot, and they did exactly what I expected them to do,” Ridley said. “They have to go with another guy and those guys stepped up and got it done. That’s what a team is about.”
Information from Field Yates was used in this report.