FOXBORO -- There's a saying that echoes through the Patriots locker room periodically each and every season: "Ball security is job security."
As often as it's said, it's an adage the Patriots have not heeded this season. They lead the league in fumbles with 18, an average of two per game, and they've lost seven.
Against the Seahawks on Sunday, they coughed it up three times, losing one when Julian Edelman fought for extra yardage on a catch over the middle in the fourth quarter. He was stripped by Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, and corner Richard Sherman snagged it to give the Seahawks possession with just under nine minutes remaining and a 25-24 lead.
About four minutes later Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 15-yard touchdown to make the score 31-24.
"It's part of the game," said Edelman, who has now lost two fumbles on the season. "It's a crucial part of the game. When you're carrying the ball, you're carrying the fortunes of the whole team. You just gotta do more to get better at it."
Just before the turnover, the Patriots had been fortunate to avoid giving the football away on special teams. Rookie return man Cyrus Jones, seeing his first action since Week 5, coughed one up on a kick return that was recovered by Nate Ebner. Later in the game, Tom Brady fumbled a snap from center David Andrews as the Patriots tried to come up with the game-tying score in the final few seconds.
Edelman has fumbled three times on the season, and he acknowledged that ball security has to be at the forefront of the mind of anyone handling, as he calls it, "the fortunes of the whole team."
"That's a constant reminder to yourself," he said. "It's not acceptable, but we're moving on."