Brady and Branch pass the chemistry test

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Brady and Branch pass the chemistry test

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- They'd been apart for 4 12 years, at a distance of 3,000 miles. So you'd think when Tom Brady was looking for receivers to help the Patriots overcome a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit, he'd look to people other than Deion Branch.

But, as they proved Sunday afternoon, time and distance can't erase a connection as deep as the one between this quarterback and this wide receiver.

"Weve known each other for a long time, so I think that chemistry is there and it will be there for a long time," Brady said after connecting with Branch 9 times for 98 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 23-20 overtime win. "He made some big catches all those play-action passes he made some good plays on those, so it's great to have him out there."

Even more amazing? Six of the catches and 75 of the yards -- plus the touchdown -- came in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"He did great," Brady marveled. "You guys asked me earlier this week if there was some chemistry there. Ive been throwing balls to him for a long time; he made some big time plays, a touchdown catch, so we all kept battling and I think that was why we pulled it out."

It had been a long time -- 13 months and 20 games -- since Brady had engineered the sort of fourth-quarter comeback that had been so routine for him during the first eight years of his Patriots career. The last one came on Opening Night 2009 against Buffalo.

"No," he answered when asked if these sort of comebacks ever get old.

What he really likes, though, was what makes these comebacks possible.

"I think there is a sign when you come in the door that says 'mental toughness,' and thats doing what youve got to do for your team," said Brady, who now has authored 30 fourth-quarter in his career. "I think that was on display today and is something that we can really build on."

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com

Quick Slants the Podcast: Who's been better for the Patriots, Welker or Edelman?

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Hawkins says he passed up more lucrative deals to sign with Patriots

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Hawkins says he passed up more lucrative deals to sign with Patriots

The Patriots went into Wednesday with what could have passed as the deepest receiving group in team history, yet by lunchtime they had added another. 

Former Browns and Bengals wideout Andrew Hawkins announced on Twitter (via uSTADIUM) that he had chose to come to terms with New England. He explained that the opportunity to work with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick proved to be enough to convince him that he should pass up more lucrative offers from other clubs.

"After giving it a lot of though, I've decided that I'm going to join the New England Patriots," he said. "Super excited about the opportunity, man, to join the reigning football champions. In Cleveland, I said it was about joining a contender, and the Patriots are the contender, the reigning champs.

"The program is top-notch, and you get the opportunity to play with the best quarterback and the best coach in NFL history, man, so it's super exciting. It was never really about the money. To be honest, I passed up on deals that were probably double the compensation . . . but it was all about winning for me at this point, and putting myself in the best position to do so."

Hawkins (5-foot-7, 180 pounds) may be a familiar name to Patriots fans as he caught four passes for a season-high 56 yards and one touchdown against New England in Week 5 of last season. He finished the year with 33 catches for 324 yards and three scores. The 31-year-old has recently seen his name in the headlines as he completed his Sports Management degree at Columbia and graduated last week. 

The Patriots have receivers room that's currently pretty loaded with talent. Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell figure to make up the top end of the depth chart, while former practice-squad wideouts Devin Street, Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White figure to compete for playing time as do undrafted rookies Austin Carr and Cody Hollister.

"Nothing's for sure. I got my work cut out for me. It's an opportunity," Hawkins said. "That's how I'm approaching it. Going there and seeing how I stack up with the best and try to earn my keep and prove my worth. I'm jsust excited to get there, get to work, and hopefully I can be part of something special and kind of join that Patriot legacy."