Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch addresses the media during his postgame press conference on Sunday, October 17, 2010.
Q: Did you think you would come in here and have nine catches in your first game back?
DB: Yes. Yes, I did [laughing]. I told you all earlier this week [that] Tom [Brady] makes everything so much easier. I have the easy job. The front line and Tom have the hard job.
Q: When you got introduced, could you tell that the fans were so behind you?
DB: Yes, sir. It's like I never left. I truly appreciate the support from the fans. It feels like it's my family. That's what really...I try not to get all worked up before the game, but it was cool. It came out a little bit. Coach tried to get me the ball earlier. The first ball got batted down. The second ball got batted, I think, too. But I think I kind of got in the groove of things once I got hit.
Q: Can you talk about your touchdown?
DB: It was just a great play by Tom. He was telling me 'good job.' Once you see the play and you see him moving around in the pocket, that's what enabled me to get behind the defense and then pull back out. It's something that we worked on all week in practice - one of the plays.
Q: Were you limited at all in what you were able to do out there?
DB: No, sir. I'm a very honest man, and I messed up on one of the plays. You all couldn't tell, but I'll be honest and let you know [that] I think had I run the right route, we probably wouldn't have gone into overtime. It was one of those things that he checked to a protection on the front line and I thought he was checking to a run play. And he came out looking for me and I'm over there blocking because I thought he checked to the run. But those are some of the things that I, personally, have to clean up on. Getting in with four days, playing a game...I think that was the only thing, and then the dropped ball.
Q: Could it have gone any better for you in the way you had such an impact on the game?
DB: I think the biggest thing is I just wanted to win in my debut. It wasn't all about what I did. Thank God for the plays that were made on the field. Thank the front line, Tom, and also Wes [Welker] and those guys helping me out during the course of the game on certain things. I just wanted to win the game. Had I had two or three catches and we won I would have been happy.
Q: On your first catch, did you feel the love from the fans?
DB: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Always and I truly appreciate that.
Q: Did that chemistry come back right away this week in practice as soon as you and Tom Brady started throwing?
DB: Yeah, Tuesday was kind of crazy. They pretty much had to hold Tom back because he was all antsy. 'I've got to get you the ball' and this and that. Coach was like, 'Look, son. I'm going to pretty much take you out of practice every now and then because Tom is trying to get you the ball 20 times.' This was the first day of practice. He was excited. I was excited, too. I just didn't want to get out there and get to moving around and start messing up the offense not knowing what to do. But thanks to those guys, we worked it out during the course of the week and got it done.
Q: Were you the primary target on that huge third down in overtime?
DB: Yes and no. It's up to Tom where he wants to go with the ball. I think with the coverage they gave us I was.
Q: So you weren't surprised to get it?
DB: No, like I said, I'm just going to run the route as if he's giving me the ball, period. Every time. I'm going to run my route hard and if he throws it to me, cool, and if he doesn't, hopefully the other guys make the play.
Q: Were you surprised by how many times he did throw to you?
DB: No, sir.
Q: Why not?
DB: Because I'm not surprised. It's so different. Tom and I have been away for four years and I honestly don't feel like we missed a beat. That just shows what type of guy he is, what type of player he is. Like I said, my job is just to get open.
Q: When you did get open in the back of the end zone, did you suspect that he might throw it to you?
DB: Yeah, I knew he was going to throw it [to me] once he didn't throw it to the front side. So I was almost like (inaudible) on the play, so I have enough time to work the back line to get the guy flowing and he just threw the ball. Once he didn't throw it to the front side I knew he was coming back.
Q: That was kind of a muted celebration for you with just the bow. The offensive line didn't come up with anything better for you?
DB: No, not this week. I'm pretty sure we're going to get into that pretty soon. A couple of the guys are still getting to know me. Matt [Light] and those guys know me, but the other younger guys don't know me as of right now.
Q: How did you feel about you and Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez as a unit today?
DB: I think we did ok. There were a couple things towards the end of the game that we needed that we didn't capitalize on: a couple dropped balls, my mistake. But I think we did ok. We're a whole lot better than that. Given the three, four days that I've been here, that Wes Welker is a special player. [Brandon] Tate is a great player and Julian - he got whacked a little bit. He is a great, great guy. He is going to be special player.
Q: When did you first learn you were coming back here and what was your reaction?
DB: I first learned it...you never know in the NFL. They can say this and say that, but it's never true until it happens. Everything is just all rumors. I think Monday about 6:30 or 7:00 [Director of Scouting Administration] Ms. Nancy [Meier] called me and she said, 'We have a flight for you at 11:22 - redeye.' That's when it pretty much set in and I knew that it wasn't fake. It wasn't rumors. It was actual fact.
Q: What was your reaction?
DB: I was very excited, very excited. I know I said this Tuesday, but my wife, she was, too. It kind of hit her a little bit and I had to calm her down. I think it was more so with the kids, though - pulling the kids out of school. I'm like, 'Baby, we're going back home. It will be ok at another school in New England. It will be alright.'
Q: Did it feel just like old times with the situation with the game on the line in overtime and you and Tom Brady?
DB: Yes, sir. I think the biggest thing is Coach Belichick put us through so many situation things in practice, that we worked on this so much. It's just all about us going out and executing. It's nothing that we're not aware of. We go through those - like at the end of the game with 1:15. Coach called some pretty good pays, we just didn't execute them. During the week, we can go out there and do that. It's all about executing. We didn't do that to end the game, but I think in overtime, once we settled down, coach figured out which plays he wanted to call. And the front line did a great job blocking and Tom did his thing.
Q: Did your little miscue occur on that last play?
DB: It happened on the drive right before the field goal. When we kicked the field goal to tie it up 20-20, it happened on the play before that. I was just praying like, 'Please, let us get the ball back.' I think as a player, that's the last thing you want: to end the game on a note that was something you could have done a whole lot better instead of making a mistake.
Q: Is it different to be back here in this situation where every game matters so much?
DB: I'm used to being in this situation with this team and that guy. I don't want to talk about the past, but I haven't felt this way in four years. That's kind of crazy. I truly feel like when we got the ball on that last drive, we knew, 'Hey, we're going to go down. We're going to get some points out of this and win this game.' That's the feeling we had. That's how the guys took the field. I truly just haven't had this feeling in a long time. And then my man Tom just told me that I haven't caught nine balls in a game since my rookie season. How crazy? And it was on this team, so I'm glad it happened again for this team.
Q: Did you have that feeling that, because of how things were going and because you were with Tom, you were going to win this game?
DB: Always. Tom's always...he rubs that off on the guys. I'm a natural-born champion, but playing with this guy, he just makes you feel a little bit more than what you really are. I know this would never happen - I give him so much credit because he deserves it - but true enough I wish every receiver would get the opportunity to play with this guy because he's amazing. He's amazing.