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.