From Valencia Viking to New England Patriot, running back Shane Vereen made his mark on the big stage, as he helped advance the Patriots to the AFC Championship game Sunday.
Vereen stepped up to the challenge, becoming the primary back-up to starter Steven Ridley, with running back Danny Woodhead suffering a thumb injury on the first snap of the game and didn’t return.
Vereen isn’t the first option with New England, with only 62 rushing attempts for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns and 8 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown for the entire season.
Not seeing the field in last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, Vereen wanted to make some noise this time around in the playoffs.
The former Valencia Viking, who was a three-year varsity player from 2004 to 2006, answered the call with a rushing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns in the 28-41 win over the Texans.
Vereen gave the Patriots their first score, as he ran in a one-yard touchdown to put them up 3-7, with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
With 3:34 left in the second quarter, quarterback Tom Brady threw a short pass to Vereen for an eight-yard touchdown to put New England up 3-17.
In the fourth-quarter, perhaps the most exciting of the three touchdown, Brady hits Vereen on a double-move go-route for the 33-yard touchdown, to put New England up 13-38 with 13:07 left in the game.
Along with the 28-41 victory, Vereen’s performance tied the franchise postseason record with scoring three touchdowns in a game.
Running back Curtis Martin did it in 1997, and tight-end Rob Gronkowski did it last year in 2012.
New England hosts the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 20, at 3:30 p.m.
The winner of this game will travel to New Orleans, La., Feb. 3 for Super Bowl XLVII.