Vereen's solid day of work; Running back recorded a team-high 11 receptions.
PHOENIX -- Quarterback Tom Brady was named MVP of the Patriots' 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The unofficial unsung hero award went to Shane Vereen.
The fourth-year running back, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, obviously impressed any potential suitors by catching 11 of 12 passes to come his way. Both were team highs.
"I do what I can because I love this team,'' Vereen said afterward. "I love this family. Whether I had 20 catches or whether I had zero catches, I would be just as happy and just as proud to be a New England Patriot today.''
Vereen parlayed his receptions into 64 yards. He also rushed for 13 yards on four carries.
The 11 receptions were one off Vereen's career high, but enough to tie the Patriots' postseason record shared by receivers Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX) and Wes Welker (Super Bowl XLII).
Vereen only had more than five receptions in a game once during the regular season, making eight in a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 12. He came in with seven catches in these playoffs.
But Vereen was told coming in he'd be in for a busy day against the Seahawks.
"We knew that the backs would catch a lot of balls,'' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "It's a zone defense. They hardly played any man-to-man tonight and when they did (Rob Gronkowski) really had a big night on a few of those snaps.
"When they try to back out of there and give you a lot of space, we knew the backs were eventually going to play a big role in it. We have a lot of trust in Shane and he did a great job.''
Brady trusted Vereen enough to go to him three times on third down. The result was two first downs and an incompletion.
All told, Vereen picked up five first downs via the air while also twice putting the Patriots into a favorable down-and-distance situation with receptions of 9 and 8 yards on first down.
Vereen also had the longest play by a Patriot, totaling 24 yards with nine coming on a catch and 15 tacked on for unnecessary roughness by frustrated safety Earl Thomas, while playing about two-thirds of the offensive snaps.
"There's a reason Shane is in the game as much as he is,'' McDaniels said. "He's a tremendous asset in blitz pickup and, obviously, he's a great pass receiver out of the backfield.''
The Patriots' successful comeback Sunday was historic in addition to being dramatic.
Teams trailing by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter had been 0-29 in the Super Bowl prior to the Patriots erasing a 24-14 deficit in the final 15 minutes.
Coupled with their successful comeback from 14 points down against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional round, the Patriots became the first team to overcome double-digit, second-half deficits while on their way to winning the Super Bowl.
And, finally, teams had been 1-62 (.016) when trailing by at least 10 points in the playoffs since 2003.
"It just shows once again how tough our team is,'' wide receiver Julian Edelman said. "It shows all the stuff that we do that Coach (Bill) Belichick puts us through. You hate doing it. You hate practicing outside when it's two degrees or it's raining and we have a bubble.
"But I guess he knows what he's doing. He makes us mentally tough with all the situations he puts us in.
The Patriots also overcame long odds to win despite losing the turnover battle (minus-1). Out of the 40 teams that finished with a negative number in the Super Bowl, only four won. That's a not-so-successful rate of .100
Edelman not concussed
According to The Associated Press, Edelman was cleared of a concussion by the team's medical staff after taking a big hit from safety Kam Chancellor early in the fourth quarter. He returned to the field and caught the winning touchdown pass with 2:02 left to play.
Edelman finished with nine receptions for 109 yards and saved the day with his 21-yard catch on third and 14 before being belted by Chancellor.
Belichick was asked if Edelman had a head injury Monday, but didn't give a direct answer. Instead he explained the setup between the coaching and medical staffs in which each leaves the other alone to its job.
The Belichick-coached Patriots have scored 135 points and allowed 129 points in their six Super Bowls. ... Brady set a Super Bowl record for completions with 37. His 50 pass attempts were the third most. He also became the sixth quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game and the first to throw them to four different players. ... The Patriots finished 13-0 when scoring at least 23 points. Conversely, they allowed 12 points in the fourth quarter in their last nine games. ... The Patriots are the youngest team to win the Super Bowl with an average age of 25.2 years. ... Note to remember for next year: Teams wearing white jerseys have won 10 of the past 11 Super Bowls.
Contact Rich Garven
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Feb 3, 2015|
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