Friday, April 18, 2014
Stevan Ridley got a lot of airtime Sunday for a guy who didn't play.
The Patriots leading rusher was not active for New England's 34-31 come-from-behind road victory over the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon. Nor was he injured.
Ridley, who has gained 546 yards, was seen several times during the telecast on the sidelines holding a football. He has lost four fumbles this year, two of which have been returned for touchdowns.
But in his Monday morning conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Ridley's benching was not a message.
"If I have a message to send to somebody, I'll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,'' he said. "I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That's not a problem. There's no sending a message.
"You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we're all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That's easy. There's not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn't cryptic. We're just trying to win a football game, that's all.''
Belichick stressed, when asked if Ridley was specifically benched because of his fumbling, that all moves are made in the team's best interests.
"The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries, and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,'' he said. "Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it's made with what gives our team, in our opionion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That's what all decisions are based on.''
Belichick also declined to comment on the comments made by Houston's Antonio Smith after Sunday's game. Smith infered that the Patriots second-half comeback was somewhat suspicious. He said, "Either teams are spying on us or scouting us. I don't know what it is.''
In his Monday morning appearance on WEEI in Boston, quarterback Tom Brady also dismissed Smith's comments.
"We've kind of been through a lot of this before,'' he said. "I don't really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on. I've already started work on the Cleveland Browns.''
The Patriots scored touchdowns on the first three possessions of the second half. They have rallied from 24 down and 10 down at the half in their last two games.
Some notes from Sunday's game:
- The Patriots secured their 13th consecutive winning season as the win gave them a 9-3 record. That's second-best all time, trailing San Francisco and Dallas, each of which had 16 consecutive winning seasons.
- By passing for 371 yards, Brady passed 3,000 passing yards for the 11th time, one of just six plays in NFL history to have at least 11 3,000-yard passing seasons.
- Kicker Stephen Gostkowski had his streak of 21 consectuive field goals snapped when he missed a 55-yarder. But he came back with a pair of 53-yarders, the first tying the game at 31, the second winning it. He has scored at least one point in 103 consecutive games, a Patriot record.
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.