Shane Vereen's totals from 2012 are far from impressive: 400 total yards of offense and four touchdowns are hardly impressive numbers over the course of a 16-game season.
Forget those numbers. The important ones to remember are 123 total yards and three touchdowns, Vereen's numbers from his breakout performance against the Texans on Sunday.
As impressive as those numbers are, they fail to reflect how much of an impact Vereen really had. The Texans took the diminutive running back for granted. That was their mistake, as Vereen had a historic night.
ESPN Stats and Info notes that Vereen is truly in rare company with his performance:
(ELIAS) Shane Vereen: 3rd player in NFL postseason history with 2 TD catches and a TD run in same playoff game (Roger Craig, Ricky Watters)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 14, 2013
Vereen made big plays up and down the field. Granted, two of his touchdowns were as much a result of Texans' mistakes as Vereen's own success, but his third touchdown was pure skill. Vereen barely got by Texans linebacker Barrett Ruud, then made a beautiful catch for the touchdown.
Today was the performance we've been waiting for from Vereen. He was elusive, powerful and decisive. Those are traits that will serve him well for an increased role in 2013.
Stevan Ridley will still be the catalyst for the Patriots' backfield. He ran for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns this season in what was a career year. Those yards did not always come easily, but Ridley ran with power and explosion this season. Vereen will not threaten Ridley's touches.
He will, however, cut into Danny Woodhead's touches. Woodhead had a nice season this year with 745 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns, but Vereen is the superior talent and should see more of those touches going forward.
If the Patriots can get continued production out of Vereen like they did Sunday, that offense will be even more deadly. With a deadly backfield to go with the Pats' already fantastic group of receivers, this offense will again be among the NFL's best in 2013.
With Ridley's breakout 2012 season and a projected breakout from Vereen in 2013, this Patriots backfield quickly went from liability to strength. These two backs could combine to form one of the league's best one-two punches, and it started today with Vereen's fantastic performance.