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Originally published December 7, 2008 at 8:45 PM | Page modified December 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Branch has big day against his former team

Deion Branch finally caught a touchdown pass in the north end of Qwest Field. When he walked over to give the ball to his wife sitting in a field-level suite, even he was a little shocked by the glittering, jeweled No. 83 jersey she was wearing.

AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE —

Deion Branch finally caught a touchdown pass in the north end of Qwest Field. When he walked over to give the ball to his wife sitting in a field-level suite, even he was a little shocked by the glittering, jeweled No. 83 jersey she was wearing.

"I don't know what that woman is doing, man," Branch joked afterward about his wife, Shola. "Every time it's something new."

There were some smiles for Branch on Sunday after his best performance of the season with four catches for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Seattle's 24-21 loss to New England.

But the Patriots' rally, one that was all too familiar for Branch, overshadowed just his second two-touchdown day since arriving in Seattle from New England early in the 2006 season.

As if any more of a link needed to be drawn between Branch and his former team, it was Brandon Meriweather, the player taken with the first-round draft pick that Seattle sent to New England to acquire Branch. Meriweather forced a fumble, sacking Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace with 1:54 left. Richard Seymour jumped on the loose ball to clinch the Patriots' victory.

"The sad part is that we played so good all the way up to the end," Branch said. "One mistake cost us the game, but that is football. That is what happens in football."

Branch and Wallace were the stars of Seattle's offense, which was playing with its reserve quarterback, four reserve offensive linemen and a backup receiver.

Finally healthy after a series of calf and groin injuries, Wallace completed 20 of 28 for 212 yards and three touchdown passes. His passer rating of 128.3 was the highest of his career.

Rookie tight end John Carlson was Wallace's favorite target with eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, but it was Branch providing the excitement.

Branch caught a 14-yard TD pass on Seattle's opening drive, then took a bow to the crowd. In the third quarter, his one-handed, 4-yard TD catch finally gave him an opportunity to present a touchdown reception to his wife.

But it was his 63-yard catch and run - across the field and tiredly staggering in front of the Seahawks sideline - that set up his second touchdown catch. Branch came back to help out a scrambling Wallace on a short reception, then faked out Junior Seau, sending him flying out of bounds, and traversed the field for his longest catch of the season - by 30 yards.

"I ran about 60 yards across the field and I was done," he said.

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Branch got the emotional aspect of playing his former team out of the way on Saturday when he went over to the Patriots' team hotel and caught up with some friends. He also stayed in the locker room longer than normal Sunday during pregame warmups, not wanting to turn midfield into a giant reunion.

He hopes Sunday's performance can be built upon over the final three weeks and carry over into next season. So far, Branch's tenure in Seattle has been a disappointment, accentuated by his numerous injuries.

"It's not my job to answer questions for people who doubt my talent," Branch said. "I'm not disrespecting anyone but I couldn't care less about what someone says about me as far as doubting my talent, because I know I work hard. I put the time in for me to get back to the player I know I am and what I can be."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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