Patriots Match-Up Mania: No Fumbles

Will Stevan Ridley ever touch the football again?

If you looked up wicked awesome in the dictionary, there certainly would be a description of the 34-31 overtime victory the New England Patriots earned against the Denver Broncos last weekend. However, having seen the fumble-filled first half of Sunday’s game,we all know it wasn’t a perfect victory.

Three fumbles – okay, it’s three fumbles lost out of six fumbles – and a 24-0 halftime deficit usually means defeat in the NFL and if it happens again when it counts, your Patriots won’t be making a deep run in the tournament. They won’t even beat the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Bill Belichick has certainly discussed this with his fumblers players. Stevan Ridley is still technically a player on the roster even if #22 never gets to touch the ball again. Never is probably too strong of a word. Ridley now faces a confidence problem with himself and his team. Some good coach speak from Josh McDaniels covers it:

I think you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem. I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. He’s been very productive in our offense. He’s done a lot of things. At the same time, obviously, ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball. We have to be part of the solution. We have to work with him.

Helping Ridley included former Pats back Kevin Faulk. Faulk basically said it’s a mindset you need to develop that stops fumbles. And it’s not just an in-game issue. Perhaps BB made Ridley carry a turkey around on Thanksgiving? Faulk said:

…there are a lot of different things that just take practice and practice. Not just practice on the field, but it takes practice off the field, not thinking about it, not mentally getting yourself disturbed about it. . . .Like I told him, you really have to be mentally in tune.

Ridley wasn’t the only fumbler. Will Faulk chat up Tom Brady or LeGarrette Blount, too? McDaniels said there were too many “balls on the ground” and the team needs to protect the ball better. He said:

That’s a team thing. Our confidence, as an offense, you want to be able to protect the football no matter who you give it to. That’s our goal and that’s our focus, and we’ll work with everybody to try to fix the issues that certainly came up the other night.

Brady said something noteworthy about fumbles last week. Basically, he said you simply have to move past errors and not make them again. “You’ve got to put a lot of the stuff aside,” he said. “You’ve got to forget about what happened in the first half, because it was a terrible half of football. “

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