Lewis harps on fumbles after otherwise historic night: 'My worst game ever'

Lewis harps on fumbles after otherwise historic night: 'My worst game ever'

FOXBORO -- Dion Lewis had just made history in his postseason debut, his team was headed to the AFC title game, and he was about to Facetime with Deion Sanders for an NFL Network postgame show.

It had been a pretty good night, by all accounts. 

But after the Patriots beat the Texans in the Divisional Round, 34-16, Lewis was focused on how the night could have been -- and should have been -- even better.

"I feel like this is my worst game ever," Lewis said. "I feel like this is my worst game ever, actually. The fumbles . . . Just putting my team in a bad position. I don't think this is my best game."


Lewis was unquestionably one of the reasons the Patriots earned the right to move on to their sixth consecutive conference title game, scoring three touchdowns and becoming the first player in the Super Bowl era to run for a score, catch one, and return a kick for another in a single playoff game.

Yet Lewis was hard on himself was because he was also one of the reasons why the Patriots had only a one-point lead in the second quarer.

With 11:29 left in the first half, Lewis fumbled a kickoff return that the Texans recovered at the Patriots 12-yard line. Two plays later, they were in the end zone to make the score 14-13.

Lewis fumbled again with 7:37 left in the game and the hosts up 31-16. This time, Patriots guard Joe Thuney was able to fall on it to maintain possession. 

Lewis seemed genuinely miffed after the game.

"That's just how I am," he said. "I never worry about the good stuff. I'm supposed to do stuff like that. My teammates trust me to do stuff like that. I'm worried about ways to get better to keep helping my team win for next week."

Lewis vowed to have his ball-security issues fixed by the AFC Championship Game next weekend, saying he might carry a football around the team facilities next week in order to improve his game-day grip.

"I can't tell you, but I know what I have to do," he said. "It's fixable, I know that. And I'm going to do whatever I can. Because if I don't, I'm not going to play. I'll get it fixed."

Lewis was the primary back for the Patriots against what was at times a smothering Texans defense. He out-touched LeGarrette Blount -- who missed two practices during the week due to an illness -- by a margin of 15-to-8, taking 13 hand-offs for 41 yards and catching two of seven targets for 23 yards.

Lewis even got a goal-line carry, which has typically been Blount's responsibility this season, powering into the end zone with 12:16 left in the game.

"I just approach every game like I'm gonna be the guy that's going to be there every play," he said. "That's just the way I prepare, that's just the way I work."

As for his other scores, the 98-yard kick return was an opportunity for Lewis to showcase his breakaway speed rather than his ankle-breaking quickness. Getting key blocks from James Develin, Geneo Grissom, Shea McClellin, Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner, he out-ran everyone when he saw his opening.

"I saw the safety over there by himself, and I knew if I got past him, I had a chance," he said. "The only thing I was thinking about was, 'Don't get caught.' "

Lewis' water-bug quickness took center stage earlier in the game when Lewis caught a pass out of the backfield with 9:30 left in the first quarter. Finding himself in a one-on-one situation with Bernardrick McKinney, Lewis made a hesitation move, and then sped by the Second-Team All-Pro linebacker and into the end zone.

Asked about the move he put on McKinney, Lewis said, "I'm supposed to."

For Lewis, his positive plays drew the equivalent of a shoulder-shrug. Despite his historic outing, there was less an air of accomplishment about him after the game than there was an eagerness to get back to work to correct the mistakes he made Saturday night.

"I know," he said, "what I gotta do."

Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has signed a two-year deal to return to the team, according to an ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Slater had made a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for kick returner/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earlier this week to bolster their special teams.


Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

A new catch rule is coming to the NFL.

So, controversies such as the Jesse James' touchdown reversal in the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in December and the Kelvin Benjamin call in the Bills-Pats game a week later likely would have resulted in upheld TDs under the new rule.

According to the Washington Post, Troy Vincent, the NFL VP of football operations, said competition committee members plan to propose getting rid of portions of the rule related to a receiver going to the ground while making a catch and to slight movement of the football while it’s in the receiver’s hands. Vincent also said the committee also intends to raise the bar by which an on-field ruling of a catch could be overturned via replay review.

That apparently was what was done in Super Bowl 52, when the Eagles' Corey Clement's juggling TD catch was not overturned via replay. 

“We worked backward,” said Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”

The rule modifications could be approved by the competition committee as early Tuesday, the Post reported, and owners will meet next week in Orlando to vote on it. Rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 franchises. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing for the catch rule to be modified.