New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen shattered expectations yesterday, and he was a huge weapon and factor in the Patriots victory over the Buffalo Bills. We knew Vereen would have a bigger role in the offense with Danny Woodhead gone, but I didn’t see his huge game on the ground coming. While I predicted that Vereen would be in line for a big day as a pass-catcher, I doubted his rushing ability. Yeah, last time I make that mistake.
Alex Carrington (92) pursues New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) during the fourth quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Not only did Shane Vereen showcase his elite pass-catching ability at the RB position by hauling in seven passes on ten targets for 58 yards, but he had an even more impressive performance on the ground with 101 rushing yards on 14 carries. Vereen filled in seamlessly as a rusher for Stevan Ridley, who was benched for fumbling twice (the second was returned for a long touchdown), and he looked even better than Ridley did.
It must have been tough for Ridley to praise Vereen, but he gave plenty of credit to Vereen, who also had encouraging words for Ridley and backed up his fellow third-year back. Ridley said, “Shane is a player; I can’t take anything from him. He made a few great catches and some nice runs. He’s just taking advantage of the opportunities that have been given just like all of us. We try to go out there every Sunday, every opportunity we get is capitalized on and I’m happy for him, I really am. It sucks for me to be in this situation, but as a teammate I pat him on the back and tell him he did a great job helping us win this game.”
I’m sure the rest of the league has taken notice of Shane Vereen’s talents following yesterday’s performance, and he deserves all the praise he can get. Having 159 yards of total offense is just a massive number, especially on just 21 touches. Vereen is a weapon in its purest form, and he’s a scary proposition for teams that have issues covering running backs.
Bill Belichick was full of praise for Vereen and was particularly happy about his intelligent decision at the end of the game, “I thought Shane stepped up and did a good job for us. We counted on him a lot and he came through for us. He got us down in field goal range in the end, kept the ball in bounds, forced [Buffalo] to use another time out. It was a good play; a smart play.”