Chemistry lesson from Branch and Brady
September, 18, 2011
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Deion Branch stepped up to the podium together with matching grins.
"Deion and I are going together today," Brady said before Branch finished the thought, "Something new."
Just like on the field, the duo is always in lockstep. Just in case anyone forgot, Branch showed he remains a favorite target of Brady -- even in an offense with new shiny weapons -- catching a team-high eight passes for 129 yards in a 35-21 triumph over the San Diego Chargers at Gillette Stadium.
Elsa/Getty ImagesDeion Branch and Tom Brady had another big day together Sunday vs. San Diego.
"I've thrown a lot of passes to him over the years," said Brady. "There's nobody that I enjoy playing with more than this guy. It's always been that way. He's my lockermate and one of my great friends. He's just everything you wish for in a receiver."
Reunited last season, the two players have often gushed about the chemistry they share. After Branch went the entire preseason without a catch, some wondered if that rapport had some how dissipated. How foolish that seems now. Over the first two weeks of the season, Branch has caught 15 passes for 222 yards. He hasn't grabbed a touchdown, but he's set up plenty of them.
Like on New England's first drive Sunday, when Branch caught Brady's first pass of the game -- an 11-yard hookup -- to ignite a 12-play, 93-yard scoring march. Branch added a 17-yard grab later in the frame as part of a scoring drive that spanned into the second quarter and ended with a 22-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
Branch caught two more passes for 39 yards on a second-quarter touchdown drive, then reeled in two more passes over a mere eight seconds to set up another Gostkowski field goal before the intermission.
"[Brady] was throwing it to me, his eyes -- you have to see this guy's eyes," said Branch. "Once he's in the pocket, his eyes are so big when he's getting ready to throw the ball. I guess he's so excited when guys are so open."
Brady piped in: "Yeah, always. And he's always open."
Not missing a beat, Branch continued, "I think my eyes light up, too, like his. It was just two great plays [before the half] and we took advantage of what they gave us."
Brady stayed for a few more questions, then patted his friend on the back and headed for the exit. Branch said he'd answer one more query. He stayed for 11, many of which allowed him to gush about his quarterback and the chemistry they have.
"Well, let’s just say that it’s good luck -- maybe because we sit beside each other in the locker room," said Branch. "You know what I’m saying? That’s the key. I thank the equipment guys for putting me right next to him. But I just think overall the work that we put in in practice is what’s really going on. All the meetings and everything we sit in with this guy, each and every day, all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, all day Friday and we talk about a lot of different things. I think the open line of communication is always good for us. And that’s what you’re seeing. It’s not so much what we’re doing on a game day – it’s all about the work that we’re putting in on Wednesday, Thursday [and] Friday."
It's clearly paying dividends on Sundays.