Patriots 23, Ravens 20, OT

Four years after leaving the Patriots, Deion Branch felt like –
and played like – he’d never been gone.

New England reacquired Tom Brady’s old reliable receiver five
days after trading Randy Moss and, with less than a week of
practice, Branch sparked a comeback from a 10-point deficit to a
23-20 overtime win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens.

He capped that with two key catches that set up Stephen
Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime.

”Tom and I have been away for four years and I honestly don’t
feel we missed a beat,” Branch said.

He had seven receptions after the Ravens (4-2) took a 20-10 lead
three seconds into the fourth quarter and finished with nine, the
most he had in a regular-season game since catching 13 against San
Diego as a rookie in 2002 after the Patriots drafted him in the
second round.

”We’ve known each other for a long time, so I think the
chemistry’s there,” Brady said. ”It will be there.”

The Patriots (4-1) won their eighth straight game after a bye.
The Ravens’ three-game winning streak came to an end.

When Moss was traded to Minnesota on Oct. 6, fans worried that
the Patriots would struggle without their only deep threat. But
Branch gave them plenty of reasons to forget those concerns and the
team’s embarrassing 33-14 playoff loss to the Ravens in the first
round last season.

”You can’t compare him to Randy, (Moss) is such a dynamic
player,” Ravens cornerback Chris Carr said, ”but Branch has
proven he can win.”

Branch was MVP of the 2005 Super Bowl when he caught 11 passes
for 133 yards. But he was in his fourth year with Seattle when the
Patriots were dominated in last season’s playoffs. They gave up Ray
Rice’s 83-yard touchdown run on the game’s first offensive play and
trailed the Ravens 24-0 after the first quarter.

”If we see them in the playoffs we will be ready again,”
Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis said.

Branch’s nine catches matched Moss’ total in his four games with
New England this season.

”Not perfect, but he did a lot of good, like he always did,”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ”He got open and caught some
balls. Let’s not make it too complicated.”

Branch’s first grab in the fourth quarter was a 5-yard touchdown
four minutes into the period, cutting the lead to 20-17. The
Patriots then forced the Ravens to punt and marched from their
14-yard line to a third down at the Baltimore 3 – with the help of
four catches by Branch – and settled for Gostkowski’s 24-yard tying
field goal with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

”I’m used to being in the situation in this game with
(Brady),” Branch said. ”I haven’t felt this way in four
years.”

In overtime, the Ravens punted three times and the Patriots
punted twice. The winning drive started at the New England 38 and
Brady immediately went to Branch for a 23-yard gain on the first
play. A 10-yard completion to Branch produced a first down at the
Ravens 21 and Gostkowski kicked the winning field goal after two
runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

”It’s very rewarding to be the last person to touch the ball
and walk off winners,” Gostkowski said.

Branch finished with 98 yards receiving.

”He’s going to give you his all and run great routes and be in
the right spot,” Wes Welker said. ”He’s a very accountable
guy.”

Brady completed 27 of 44 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown.
For the Ravens, Joe Flacco completed 27 of 35 passes for 285 yards
and two touchdowns.

”It’s tough when you think you have the game won,” Flacco
said.

Baltimore scored on its opening drive, as it did in the playoff
game, but needed 15 plays before Billy Cundiff kicked a 26-yard
field goal. After the teams exchanged punts, Green-Ellis put New
England ahead with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Ravens took a 10-7 halftime lead after Flacco’s 16-yard
touchdown pass to Todd Heap then made it 17-7 when Flacco connected
on a 5-yarder to Anquan Boldin that was set up by Carr’s
interception.

Field goals Gostkowski of 38 yards and Cundiff of 25 yards left
Baltimore with a 20-10 lead with seven seconds gone in the fourth
quarter.

Then the Patriots charged back.

”They went to the no-huddle,” Ravens safety Dawan Landry said.
”They weren’t trying to take big shots (downfield). They kept
moving the chains.”

Midway through the first half, Heap left the game after being
hit on a helmet-to-helmet collision with safety Brandon
Meriweather, who was penalized. Heap lay on the ground for several
minutes, left the game but returned before intermission.

In the second half, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman left
the game with a head injury.

Notes: Linebacker Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with 18 tackles.
Lewis had nine for the Ravens. … Flacco set a Ravens franchise
record for career yards passing with 7,985 in his 38th game,
passing Kyle Boller, who had 7,846 in 53 games. … New England is
6-0 against Baltimore in the regular season.