|Stevan Ridley on another fumble: ‘Can’t make excuses – I messed up’||10.08.12 at 1:42 am ET|
FOXBORO — For weeks in training camp, Stevan Ridley heard question after question about ball security.
He knew after the way last season ended he would be asked about his ability to hold onto the ball, especially when teams would be targeting him. For the first three games, he had 52 carries without a miscue, including a 125-yard rushing performance in a season-opening win over the Titans.
Then, in Buffalo, he fumbled for the first time since last January against the Broncos. The Patriots recovered and all was forgiven, as he ran 22 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Last winter- when he fumbled against the Bills in the regular season finale – he coughed it up in the very next game and lost this one in the AFC playoff game against the Broncos. The price? Bill Belichick benched him for the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.
On Sunday, after the greatest rushing game of his career, it happened again. Ridley had to answer questions about a fumble that nearly cost the Patriots control of the game in a 31-21 win over the Broncos Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
With the Patriots having stopped the Broncos at midfield following Willis McGahee‘s drop on a fourth-and-1 pass from Peyton Manning, the Patriots – leading by 10 -were driving to put the game away when Ridley fumbled the ball at the Denver 35. Von Miller forced the fumble with 5:27 remaining, and the Broncos drove the ball down the field before McGahee returned the favor and lost a fumble at the Patriots 14, allowing New England to hold on.
“It was late in the game,” said Ridley, who was benched for the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl after fumbling against the Broncos in the playoffs last January. “You’ve got to close it out. You’ve got to run the football and I told myself before the play [that] I had to hold onto the football. They’re getting paid to play, too. You can’t make excuses. I messed up. I’m sure coach [Belichick] is going to have something to say about it. But, there’s always another day tomorrow. So, I’ll be back to work and working ball security, high and tight. And that’s all I can do.”
Before the fumble, Ridley had a monstrous game, carrying the ball 28 times for 151 yards and a six-yard touchdown. He became the first Patriots back since Laurence Maroney in 2007 with consecutive 100-yard rushing games. He has 50 carries for 267 yards and three TDs in his last two games.
“It’s awesome, man,” Ridley said. “I just have to say, it takes a lot of pressure off [Tom Brady]. And that’s our leader, that’s our team. A lot of people key on him and our running back group has to get some pressure off him so he can be the quarterback he can be. If they’re sitting back there staring Brady in the face every play, we can’t be a one-dimensional offense. So we’re taking pride in that and we’re thankful for it, but there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re not satisfied and it’s still early in the year. There’s a lot of football to be played.
“It didn’t the way I wanted it to but besides that, I’m just thankful to be out there,” Ridley continued. “Some things are going in my favor and some things aren’t. For me, I just need to come back in here on Monday and get back to work. We’re going to continue to work hard. That’s the only way they do it around here and that’s the team way.”
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