FOXBOROUGH (AP) — Stevan Ridley took a giant step back into the good graces of his coaches in last week’s AFC East-clinching win at Baltimore.
Now the goal for the New England running back is to stay there.
Ridley, benched for the Dec. 1 game at Houston after losing fumbles three straight weeks and four times on the season, was back in the spotlight last Sunday. With the Patriots ahead 20-7 in the fourth quarter, he carried five times for 22 yards, including a tough 8-yarder on the final offensive drive.
“It’s better than being on the sideline, I’ll say that,” Ridley said yesterday.
Back on Dec. 1, Ridley stood in street clothes holding a football as his teammates rallied for a 34-31 win over the Texans. He returned and played in the next two games, carrying eight times in each. But at Baltimore, he carried 15 times (for 54 yards) and was in there late as he helped the Patriots clinch their fifth straight division title.
“Getting your playing time cut and being benched and on the sideline isn’t anything that anybody wants to go through,” he said. “You have to battle back. You have to go out there and work every day — and I can only control what I can control.”
Citing his faith as the thing that gets him through tough times, Ridley said, “It wasn’t what I wanted, but I know why God did it. It wasn’t like the coaches woke up and said, ‘Hey, let’s bench Stevan Ridley.’ I put myself there.”
He said he spoke to his high school coach, David Kuhn, and former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk about the fumbling problems. Whatever he did, so far it has worked.
“For me, it’s about not letting past mistakes hold you down,” he said. “I think that life brings you that — you’re going to have adversity, you’re going to have stuff that you’re going to go through. It’s how you bounce back from that as a person.