Sunday, December 1, 2013

In Ridley's absence, Patriots' tailbacks secure football


While the New England Patriots escaped with an overtime victory last week despite fumbling six times, coach Bill Belichick wasn't about to push his luck.

So Belichick decided to make his leading fumbler, running back Stevan Ridley, a healthy scratch Sunday against the Houston Texans. Ridley had lost a fumble in each of New England's last three games.

And with Ridley out of the backfield, the Patriots leaned on a by-committee group comprised of Shane Vereen, LaGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and James Develin en route to another comeback win.

Oh, and no one fumbled.

Vereen accumulated 75 yards of offense with a receiving touchdown, while Blount and Develin each rushed for a score. Bolden had just a couple short rushes but did haul in an 18-yard reception.

"All those guys contributed," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said after the game, via ESPN Boston. We're going to need them all, that's one of the strengths of our team."

When Ridley hangs onto the football, he's a big strength of the running back corps and the team as a whole. Assuming Belichick was just sending him a message, it's possible he's worked back into the lineup as soon next weekend when the Patriots take on the Cleveland Browns.

Belichick didn't give much insight on his decision to make Ridley an inactive, simply telling reporters it was because "there were 46 other players active ahead of him."

Follow Nick @NickStDenis
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily