FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wide receiver Deion Branch was in Seattle on Monday night when he got a call from Patriots scouting administration director Nancy Meier telling him there was a red-eye flight ready to bring him back to Boston.
Hours later, Branch was reunited on the practice field with his former quarterback, Tom Brady.
"They pretty much had to hold Tom back because he was all antsy," Branch said Sunday after playing a big role in the New England Patriots' 23-20 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. "Coach said, 'Look, I'm going to have to take you out of practice every now and then because Tom's going to try and get you the ball 20 times.'"
As it turns out, Brady had reason to be excited. Branch led the team in receiving on Sunday, catching nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
"Tom just told me I haven't caught nine balls in a [regular-season] game since my rookie season," he said. "How crazy? And it was on this team. I'm glad it happened again."
Branch's first catch drew a standing ovation from the home crowd.
"It's like I never left," Branch said. "I truly appreciate the support from the fans. You know, it feels like it's my family."
After getting the first catch out of the way, it didn't take long for Brady and Branch to redevelop their once-seamless connection.
"Tom and I have been away for four years? And honestly, it doesn't feel like we missed a beat," Branch said.
Branch, though, admitted there were still times when the four years away from the offense showed. In particular, he said he was to blame on a third-down throw to the end zone late in the fourth quarter that sailed over his head. As a result, the Patriots settled for a game-tying field goal instead of a potential go-ahead touchdown.
"I messed up on one of the plays. [Brady] checked to a protection and I thought he was checking to a run play," Branch said. "He came out looking for me, I'm over there blocking.
"I think had I run the right route, we probably wouldn't have gone into overtime."
But more often, Branch did run the right route, including early in the fourth quarter when Brady found him in the back for the end zone for a TD that cut the Ravens' lead to 20-17. After his first touchdown in a Patriots uniform in more than four years, he celebrated with a simple bow in the direction of the crowd.
After the game, a reporter asked Branch why there weren't other teammates in the celebration.
"Not this week. I'm sure we'll get into that pretty soon," he joked. "Couple of guys are still getting to know me -- Brandon [Tate] and those guys know me -- but some of the younger guys don't know me."
Branch has good reason not to know some of his teammates yet. None of the faces in the receivers' meeting room, including coach Chad O'Shea, were around when Branch last played in Foxborough.
"They may be cousins," Branch joked with reporters after the slip.
In Branch's first stint with the Patriots, he developed into Brady's go-to receiver. In the years since, Wes Welker took over that role. Now, Brady now has both options at his disposal.
"That Wes Welker, he's a special player," Branch said of his new teammate.
Welker had similar praise. "He's a great addition to our team and we're lucky to have him."
When the Patriots most needed it on Sunday, Branch came up big. After first kicking off the Patriots' final drive in overtime with a 23-yard reception, Branch set up the game-winning field goal with a 10-yard catch on third down.
"We put him over there to see if he could get open and he doesn't let us down," Brady said.
For Branch, Sunday's game brought back some of the positive memories he remembered from his previous time in New England.
"I don't want to talk about the past, but I haven't felt this way in four years," said Branch. "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."
ESPNBoston.com's Alisha Ricardi contributed to this report.