When the ball slipped from RB Stevan Ridley’s grasp early in the Patriots’ Week 15 loss to the 49ers this season, there were some fans of the team who started to wonder: Is he headed for a repeat of 2011?
Upon further review, the fumble was not a fumble—it was determined that Ridley was down before the ball came out. He did fumble later in the game, but it was the type of fumble a player can’t do much about: San Francisco safety Donte Whitner, running at full stride, put the crown of his helmet right on the end of the ball and it popped out.
Ridley was holding the ball high and tight, so his coaches couldn’t find fault with that play, but the fumble that wasn’t and Ridley’s goal-line fumble a week earlier against Houston were enough. In the days leading up to the game in Jacksonville, Ridley was forced to relive the plays again and again in the film room.