NFL fans across the globe are likely to debate about the ending of the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers‘ game for decades. However, one thing lost in the referee’s decision to pick up his flag is the fact that Stevan Ridley fumbled at a costly time once again. The Patriots’ running back has struggled with ball control since entering the league, but now his problem is starting to cost New England games.
Ridley’s second fumble in as many games came at the Panthers’ 13-yard line and brought a 55-yard drive to a screeching halt. More importantly, this turnover kept the Patriots’ offense from getting on the scoreboard as Carolina was up 7-0 at the time of Ridley’s fumble. Then, like any good NFL team does, the Panthers made a few big plays and kicked a 43-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead. If the Patriots were able to just kick a field goal on the drive that Ridley ended prematurely, then New England would have benefited from a six-point swing — keep in mind that Carolina won this game by just four points.
Now, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did keep Ridley on the sideline for 18 plays after his miscue. However, Belichick’s punishment was in vain as Ridley’s fumble had already cost New England the game.