It looked like the New England Patriots were going to beat themselves Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. Their offense was not in sync for much of the first quarter, as the backfield just couldn’t hold onto the ball. Stevan Ridley’s fumble problems continued in the game, as he lost the ball on his fourth carry of the night. That is now Ridley’s third lost fumble this season.
Tom Brady followed Ridley’s mistake up with a fumble of his own on the Patriots’ next possession after getting walloped by Von Miller. As if it wasn’t bad enough for the Patriots’ mishaps, LeGarrette Blount gave the ball away as well. These three turnovers in the first quarter are the most in the Bill Belichick era, who has been coaching the Pats since 2000.
As a result of the nightmarish first quarter for the Pats, the Broncos were able to score 17 points off turnovers. That lead wouldn’t last for long though, as the Patriots were able to score 28 unanswered points en route to an overtime win.
In the midst of all this first quarter chaos, the Patriots were able to take some comfort in believing that Brandon Bolden might be their back of the future. The 23-year-old running back can flat out play and Belichick should be impressed with the University of Mississippi product.
Going into the game, the Broncos defense was only allowing about 93 rushing yards per game. Bolden scoffed at the Broncos’ stingy run defense and showed them who’s in charge as he ran for 58 yards on 13 carries. He’s proven that he’s a multi-faceted player and the Patriots might have just struck gold with him.
With the explosion he exhibited against the Broncos tough run defense, Bolden might have established the notion that he is good enough to carry the ball at least 15 times a game. However, the Patriots didn’t have to wait for Sunday’s game against the Broncos to discover how good Bolden is. The 220-pound workhorse came into the game against Denver averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
The Patriots have learned a new lesson tonight. If their two primary running backs, Blount and Ridley, continue suffering from chronic fumblitis (yes, that’s a word now), New England can turn to Bolden in times of need.
If the Patriots are able to successfully combine Bolden’s running ability with Rob Gronkowski’s strong hands and Julian Edelman’s elusiveness, Brady will likely be in heaven because he’ll have so many options.