New England Patriots: Danny Woodhead Back in Form

Kyle CormierContributor IIIOctober 7, 2012

FOXBORO, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the game on September 16, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Since Danny Woodhead's career season with New England in 2010, the Patriots have not been seeing the same impact from him. On Sunday in the Patriots' 31-21 victory over the Denver Broncos, Woodhead showed again where his value can be.
Woodhead converted a huge 3rd-and-14 for the Patriots in the second quarter, catching a Tom Brady pass with the team backed up against their own goal line, and taking it 25 yards for a first down. That drive would eventually lead to a field goal at the end of half to put the Patriots up 17-7 at the half.
As if that were not enough, on the Patriots' first scoring drive of the second half, Woodhead managed to convert a 3rd-and-17. Josh McDaniels called your typical 3rd-and-long draw play and Woodhead somehow managed to avoid everyone and picked up 19 yards down to the Denver 38-yard line.
On the day, Woodhead came through with an impressive seven rushes for 47 yards, while also adding that one 25-yard reception. His 6.7-yard rushing average is the highest output he has had in a game since the Patriots' Week 17 win over the Dolphins in 2010 when he averaged 9.5.
The team and McDaniels seem to have figured out once again the proper way to utilize Woodhead and have stopped simply running him up the middle in standard run formations, something that has done nothing other than getting him destroyed by the heart of the defense. But on Sunday, the team got him the ball in fast-paced situations when the defense was back on its heels, leading to much more success.
With Shane Vereen healthy, some people—including myself—had wondered if perhaps he would take away Woodhead's role on third downs. If Woodhead can continue to do as much with his opportunities as he has showed Sunday, that answer is a clear "no."