By Chuck Schilken
7:41 AM PST, January 14, 2013
Shane Vereen probably wasn't known to many people who tuned in nationwide for the AFC divisional playoff game between New England and Houston on Sunday.
But the little-used Valencia High grad made his presence known early and often after Patriots running back Danny Woodhead left with a thumb injury on the first possession and never returned. Late in the first quarter, Vereen took a short pass from quarterback Tom Brady 25 yards to help set up his own one-yard touchdown run a play later.
Vereen went on to score on an eight-yard pass in the second quarter and a diving reception in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown in fourth quarter to help the Patriots rout the Texans, 41-28, and advance to the AFC championship game for the second straight year.
In doing so, the Patriots' second-round pick in 2011 became only the third player ever to score touchdowns on two receptions and a rush in the NFL postseason, joining former San Francisco 49ers greats Roger Craig and Ricky Watters. He finished the game with 124 all-purpose yards.
Although Vereen didn't have his national coming out party until this week, local folks who remember him from his days at Valencia know he's always been a double threat. In his three years as a varsity player for the Vikings, he rushed for nearly 4,000 yards with 72 touchdowns and caught for more than 2,000 yards with 17 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
In three years with California, he rushed for 2,834 yards with 29 touchdowns and caught for 674 yards with six touchdowns.
So even though he had only five career NFL touchdowns and none in the playoffs going into Sunday's game, Vereen was more than ready to pick up the slack when the Patriots needed him.
“It comes with the game. Certain guys go down, other guys step in and you’re expected to perform. That’s what you’re expected to do,” Vereen said. “You’re given opportunities and you try to execute the opportunities the best you can.”
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