By Art Martone
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 firstname.lastname@example.org