Patriots running backs dropped the ball in this game

FOXBOROUGH — It was raining and cold. It was easy for the ball to slip out of a player’s grip. It happened so often to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (four) that the team had him adjust the placement of his hands.

Fortunately for the 49ers, they lost just one of their six fumbles. The Patriots lost both of their fumbles.

But is it a concern for Stevan Ridley beyond Sunday night’s game, in which he lost the ball twice, though one was erased when he was ruled down by contact? Ridley also lost the ball against the Texans the week prior, with the Patriots recovering.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“We played a good football team and you can’t beat a good football team playing like we did [Sunday], all the way around starting with myself,” Ridley said after the game. “You can’t have balls on the ground. You can’t have turnovers. You can’t give them opportunities to go down there and capitalize and that is exactly what they did.”

Ridley wasn’t alone. Shane Vereen also lost a fumble.

Against Houston, Danny Woodhead lost the ball in the second half when J.J. Watt punched it out of the running back’s grasp from behind. The Patriots were saved when Brandon Lloyd fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown.

“Sometimes things happen in football and that’s part of football, whatever they are and the way the ball bounces and so forth,” Bill Belichick said Monday. “Everything we do, we try to do and coach with the best possible technique, whether it be carrying the ball or any of the other things we do.”

The Patriots have been fortunate to recover most of their fumbles. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a worry going forward. And it seems to be a concern for Ridley, who has four fumbles this season.

“No one is harder on myself than me,” said Ridley, who had 23 yards on nine carries. “Nobody is more upset when I fumble than Stevan is. For me I just have to keep working. There is a lot of football left to be played. You can’t look back and that’s something we haven’t done all year, wins or losses. We have moved forward.

“So for me that is just what I have to continue to do. But I have to do better. I have to do better in game situations holding onto the football. We can’t have mistakes like that.”

Woodhead ended up playing more in the second half, but that might have been a function of the offense being more suited to his skills. Ridley did come back after the fumble. Woodhead finished the game with 12 rushes for 61 yards, to go along with five catches for 23 yards.

Monday morning blues

It’s rare that the Patriots have to come in on a Monday in the second half of the season. Because they usually win, the players are not required to make their way to Gillette Stadium.

That wasn’t the case on this Monday.

“Obviously you don’t want to have that feeling of a loss,” Rob Ninkovich said. “But I just go back to taking this as a learning experience for us to learn from and just move on.”

He said he’ll continue to be mad for one day, and by the time he returns to work out on Tuesday, his mind will be tuned to the Jaguars, the Patriots’ next foe.

Curious decision

Mike Rivera started at linebacker in place of Brandon Spikes Sunday. When asked about the change on Monday, Belichick said, “Brandon was a little limited in practice this week so we wanted to see how it went with him before we made the determination as to how much we would put [Brandon] in there.” But Spikes played his regular role in every subsequent series, making it curious that the linebacker didn’t play that way on the first drive . . . Belichick continued to be hard on himself and his team Monday. “There were times when we had our moments, but not enough of them, not consistently enough. We just didn’t coach well enough, didn’t play well enough, didn’t execute well enough,’’ said the coach. “Too many things we had to overcome in every area. It wasn’t anything that stood out above the rest; it was just too many problems. We all can do a better job than that. It’s just not winning football.”