Familar Faces Save The Day
WR Deion Branch (AP Photo)
WR Deion Branch (AP Photo)
Special to PatriotsInsider.com
Posted Oct 20, 2010


The Tom Brady to Deion Branch connection saved the day in New England, but that wasn't exactly the plan going into the game.

Sometimes all it takes is one big comeback to ignite a team for the rest of the season. The New England Patriots are hoping Sunday's win over Baltimore keeps them moving in the right direction.

   Trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, the Patriots battled back to send the game into overtime and won it, 23-20, on a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, pushing their record to 4-1 in the competitive AFC East.

   Two familiar faces helped complete the comeback -- Tom Brady and Deion Branch. Brady has orchestrated several big comebackers throughout his career and is typically at his best in the fourth quarter.

   Branch -- reacquired just five days before the game in a trade with Seattle -- looked as if he had never left, leading the team with 98 receiving yards and catching two big passes on the game-winning drive.

   "Well, I think he's incredibly smart and works hard, and as I said over the course of the week, I've thrown thousands and thousands of footballs to him over the years, and he has physical ability that's the same as when he left," Brady said. "I don't think he thought he would be as involved as he was in the offense, but we found ways to get him the ball."

   Branch also caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter to trim Baltimore's lead to 20-17. The Patriots rallied with another field goal toward the end of regulation and won it in the closing minutes of overtime, avenging last year's playoff loss at home to Baltimore.

   "I looked left to (Rob Gronkowski), I looked to Wes (Welker), he was on the left, (Danny) Woodhead had a guy covering him, then I saw Deion," Brady said of the touchdown pass to Branch.

   "In a play like that, they only rushed three down there. ... When we played them last year in the regular season I had two scrambles. When we played in '07 I scrambled around and threw it to Ben (Watson). ... They're a team that either blitzes you (with three) or packs eight guys in the end zone."
 
NOTES

   --Ravens LB Terrell Suggs had plenty to say following Baltimore's overtime loss to the Patriots on Sunday, including that if the two teams play again in the postseason, the Ravens will come out on top.
   "Well, he had his chance so maybe if he gets another chance he can try to back those words up," Brady said in response. "We play those guys a lot and they've only beat us one time in all the times that I've played them, so they talk a lot for beating us once in nine years."

   --Team owner Robert Kraft spoke about the Randy Moss trade for the first time publicly this weekend during an interview with the NFL Network.
   "Randy Moss was someone who was very special for our team," Kraft said. "You know, moves like that, you're always ambivalent about. ... It's (coach Bill Belichick's) decision. I think he makes pretty good football decisions, but I had a chance to talk with Randy the morning before we did it, and it was a wonderful conversation, and I thanked him for the great contributions he made here.
   "He thanked me for the time here. He really said some nice things. ... He said being here and part of this team was one of the most special experiences in his life. ... We wish him well in Minnesota, except when he's playing us on Halloween night."

PLAYER NOTES
   --P Zoltan Mesko boomed a 65-yard punt in overtime, pushing the Ravens deep in their own territory. The punt was the Patriots' longest since Chris Hanson booted a 70-yarder in 2008.
   --K Stephen Gostkowski nailed the game-winning 35-yard field goal in overtime Sunday, his first career game-winning overtime field goal in his first opportunity. Gostkowski also drilled the game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter.
   --LB Jerod Mayo finished with 18 tackles Sunday, the second-highest output of his career. His best game was 23 tackles against the New York Jets during his rookie season in 2008.
   --WR Deion Branch finished with nine catches Sunday, the second-highest single-game total of his career, dating back to his 2002 13-catch performance against San Diego as a rookie.
   --QB Tom Brady has now won 23 consecutive regular-season starts at Gillette Stadium, surpassing Hall of Famer John Elway for the second-longest regular-season home winning streak in NFL history.



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