Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Vereen gets New England Patriots Divisional Game Ball

Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and even the offensive line made extremely compelling cases, but the New England Patriots game ball for the AFC Divisional round goes to running back Shane Vereen for stepping in for the injured Danny Woodhead after the first snap of the game and delivering an incredible performance to help defeat the Houston Texans 41-28. Vereen showed off his value to the organization, and he is the Pats version of lightning-in-a-bottle.

Shane Vereen finished the game with three touchdowns, with one of them coming on the ground and the other two through the air. Danny Woodhead put on a show the last time he played a full game in Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins as both a rusher and receiver, and Vereen continued Woodhead’s terrific work with arguably an even better performance.

The two passes he caught for touchdowns were perfect strikes from Tom Brady for eight and 33 yards respectively, but plenty of credit definitely goes to Vereen for making those plays. His one-yard punch-in in the first quarter gave the Pats a 7-3 lead that would have a constant margin of +4 at half-time (17-13).

Vereen also made a huge impact outside of the touchdowns and was consistently great on the ground with seven carries for 41 yards- that’s an average of about six yards per carry. He was even better as a receiver with five receptions on six targets for an outstanding 82 receiving yards (not many running backs get that many) for an average of 16.6 yards per carry. Brady averaged about 14 yards per attempt when throwing it towards Vereen.

According to the stat success rate, Vereen had a successful play based on down and distance about 70% of the time, and he definitely deserves the game ball for the way he rose the the occasion and outperformed expectations in replacing a key member of the offense. The Baltimore Ravens had better watch out, because Woodhead is expected to play on Sunday. That’s two Pats running backs who are elite backups as rusher and pass-catchers out of the backfield.

Man, Vereen sure is quick.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Danny Woodhead New England Patriots Shane Vereen Tom Brady Wes Welker

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