- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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For the third consecutive game, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley fumbled on Sunday night, sending him to the bench for the balance of the game and making some question how much the Patriots can rely on him going forward.
Fumbles have been the primary area of struggle for Ridley in his two-plus NFL seasons, but he’s also shown that he can be a dynamic talent capable of carrying a heavy load.
Following the loss, Ridley made no excuses for his error, calling the fumble “almost disgusting.”
“Personally, as a player, my team deserves better,” he said. “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.”
And while the results of late have been unacceptable by Ridley’s own standards, he still has the confidence of his quarterback Tom Brady.
“We have a lot of confidence in him and I know it sucks for him, that he makes some really good runs to start the game and then it gets knocked out,” Brady told the “Dennis & Callahan show” on WEEI sports radio in Boston on Monday morning. “It’s just part of the learning experience and you just keep going with it. You keep getting cracks at it, you keep working hard at it, and he’ll work hard at it. He’ll work hard at it, he’s a tough kid, he’s a fighter.”
The Patriots turned to LeGarrette Blount following the Ridley fumble, though Blount coughed it up himself, leading the Pats to use a two-man platoon of Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen, who has shown himself to be a dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield.
But, ultimately, the Patriots' offense is at its best with Ridley running well to complement what has been an upward trending passing game over the past several weeks.
Brady knows getting Ridley back on track is critical as the regular season draws to a finish.
“We’re going to need him down the stretch,” he said. “And we’re all going to make mistakes, and we’ve all got to be prepared to overcome them too, so, that’s what we’re going to need, we’re going to need everybody.”
Extra point. Brady was also asked if he felt bad for Wes Welker, the former Patriot and a close friend.
“He played good out there,” he said. “He always seems to do his job pretty well. I [think] he always plays good. I’ve watched him all season and he’s made a lot of big plays for that team. They’re one of the best teams in the league, no one feels sorry for the Broncos. They’re 9-2, they control the fate of their of their season. I don’t think there’s anything more that you can ask of that."