BOSTON (CBS) – Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is having a tremendous year in the New England backfield, but he knows he needs to hold on to the ball if he wants it to continue.
Ridley lost one fumble and had another reversed in Sunday night’s 41-34 loss to the 49ers at Gillette, and vowed to do better with just two regular seasons games remaining until the playoffs.
“No one is harder on myself than me. Nobody is more upset when I fumble than Stevan is,” Ridley said after the loss. “For me I just have to keep working. There is lot of football left to be played. You can’t look back and that’s something we haven’t done all year, wins or losses. We have moved forward. So for me that is just what I have to continue to do.”
“But I have to do better. I have to do better in game situations holding onto the football,” he said. “We can’t have mistakes like that.”
Ridley’s third quarter turnover led to a 49ers score just one play later when Frank Gore picked up a Collin Kaepernick fumble and took it three yards into the end zone.
Ridley said the rainy weather played a factor, but it was something both sides had to deal with (Kaepernick had four fumbles himself, and San Fran had six overall). And despite San Francisco jumping to a 31-3 lead early in the third, the Patriots made comeback bid that fell just short.
“We played a good football team and you can’t beat a good football team playing like we did today, all the way around starting with myself,” said Ridley. “You can’t have balls on the ground. You can’t have turnovers. You can’t give them opportunities to go down there and capitalize and that is exactly what they did. We just can’t hang our heads. We just have to get back to work.”
Sunday’s miscue, paired with a fumble last week against Houston that was recovered by tight end Aaron Hernandez at the Patriots’ six yard line, is reminiscent to a stretch Ridley had last season as a rookie. He lost his job as the primary running back late last season after fumbling a ball out of bounds in Week 17 followed by losing a fumble against Denver in the divisional round game.
Read: 4 Ups, 4 Downs
Ridley has had an otherwise stellar season, rushing for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his four fumbles (two of which the Patriots have lost) are cause for concern once again. He’ll no doubt spend the week in practice (and around Gillette, and at home, and anywhere else he goes) holding on to the football, but we’ll see if Bill Belichick’s trust lies somewhere else, as it did last season.