FOXBORO -- After the greatest rushing game of his career, Stevan 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 New England 14, allowing the Pats 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 on to the football. They're getting paid to play, too. You can't make excuses. I messed up. I'm sure coach [Bill 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 6-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 didn't end the way I wanted it to, but besides that, I'm just thankful to be out there," Ridley said. "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."
For more from Chris Price and Mike Petraglia at Gillette, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots .