Branch sparks Patriots comeback to 23-20 OT win

Deion Branch gave New England Patriots fans plenty of reasons to
forget Randy Moss and the team’s embarrassing playoff loss to the
Baltimore Ravens.

Branch caught nine passes – the same number of receptions Moss
had in four games this season – spearheading a 23-20 comeback win
in overtime over the Ravens on Sunday. The Patriots reacquired
Branch on Monday from Seattle five days after trading Moss to
Minnesota.

Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal with 1:56 left in
overtime gave the Patriots their eighth straight win after a bye
week.

In the teams’ last meeting, the Ravens won 33-14 in the first
round of last season’s playoffs, scoring on Ray Rice’s 83-yard run
on their first offensive play and leading 24-0 after one
quarter.

Branch sparked Sunday’s rally from a 20-10 deficit starting with
a 5-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady four minutes into the fourth
quarter. The Patriots (4-1) then forced the Ravens (4-2) 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.

On the last possession of overtime, Branch caught passes for 23
and 10 yards, setting up the winning kick.

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

Branch finished with 98 yards receiving while 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.

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 on the left side of the end zone
that was set up by Chris 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.

Brady then hit Branch in the left back corner of the end zone as
the Patriots cut the lead to 3.

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.