AFC East Week 12 decisive moment

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Burn me once? Shame on you.

Burn me twice? Shame on me.

Burn me four times? Pass the aloe.

The New England Patriots were having problems with the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Lions were up 24-17 in the third quarter of a back-and-forth contest.

That was until Deion Branch swung momentum. On a third-and-2 play from the Patriots' 31-yard line, Tom Brady dropped back and flung a pass down the left sideline for Branch, who thoroughly beat Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith.

Branch had to slow down for Brady's throw, cradling it at about the Lions' 40-yard line and allowing Smith to catch up. Smith finally got his hands on Branch at about the 25, but the slippery receiver juked out of his grasp.

Branch zigged inside, but Smith had a good angle. So Branch zagged back to the sideline, totally fooling Smith for the third time. Smith doggedly maintained pursuit and got a fistful of jersey at the 5. But Branch broke that tackle, too.

Branch's touchdown went for 79 yards, the longest play of the season for New England, and was the start of a 28-0 run over the final 20:12 of the game.

"I take full responsibility," Smith said. "I'm a thumb pointer. ... I'm never going to point any fingers because the reality of the situation was I pretty much gave the Patriots the whole game. ... Me. I cost the entire city a celebration today because I'm pretty sure everyone was going to celebrate."

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