ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots hands the ball off to Stevan Ridley #22 during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The Patriots snuck out of Buffalo with a 23-21 win, thanks to the leg of Stephen Gostkowski, who converted a 35-yard kick with five seconds to go. But the storyline was the Pats' offense, which was expected to be its usual explosive self even though quarterback Tom Brady was without his top five receivers from a season ago.
There were flashes -- Danny Amendola caught 14 passes for 14 yards, and Julian Edelman added seven catches for 79 yards -- but Brady completed just 55 percent of his throws (29 of 52), including an interception to go along with two touchdowns.
And the running game provided a nice change of pace, although the team's leading rusher wasn't who you might expect. Stevan Ridley had just nine attempts for 46 yards, but the Pats' other back, Shane Vereen, had a swell afternoon: 14 rushes for 101 yards.
So where was Ridley? On the bench. He fumbled twice, the last leading to a 74-yard touchdown scamper for the Bills' Da'Norris Searcy with 8:25 to go in the second quarter, and Ridley never saw the field again.
"It was pretty obvious, man, you can't have two turnovers in one game and expect to stay in," Ridley said after the game (via ESPNBoston.com). "The coaches had to do the best move for the team and make sure we won this game, and they picked the players that they went with and we rolled through and we're lucky to pull out the win like we did."
The former third-round pick had four fumbles last season.
"I'm not going to sit on the past," he continued. "I just have to accept where I messed up, made a mistake and grow from it. That's really all you can do, having to point the finger, come back to work tomorrow. I hate it, it's unfortunate, but, you know, it's part of the game of football and I'm going to have to keep working, keep driving and pushing forward. We've got 15 more weeks in front of us and I'm going right back to work. …
"I never get too high and I never get too low, just kind of stay at even-keel," Ridley said. "This was the first game today of the 2013 season, and all the hype before this and what happened last year, I think it just goes to show you, things can change day-to-day. So coming in, having two turnovers, I can't be on anybody but myself."
As Ridley points out, there's 15 games to go and the Patriots will almost certainly need him. For now, though, he understands he has to re-earn the trust of the coaching staff.
"Absolutely," Ridley said before adding: "I'm not complaining about it. Just keep grinding."