FOXBORO — Everyone knows what happened on Dec. 10 at Gillette Stadium . The Patriots dismantled the Texans, 42-14, as the Patriots raced out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.
Deion Branch  had a unique view. He was with his wife in the basement of his North Attleboro home watching the game.
“It felt good just to see the guys doing the things that they did do in the game,” Branch said Tuesday. “You always know it and because I’m around it, but when you’re away from it and you’re watching as a fan, I was very pleased and very happy to see that. It’s really nothing new because we can do a lot of great things if we go out and execute our plays the way we’re supposed to; that type of performance.”
Ironically, in that game against the Texans, Donte’ Stallworth injured his foot on a touchdown catch, landing him on the injured reserve list and setting the stage for Branch’s return to the Patriots prior to the 49ers  game.
Did he watch the game thinking he might be back in that kind of situation?
“Trust me, however the marbles fall, I just let them fall,” Branch said. “There are a lot of things you can’t control in life. Trust me, if I was one of the personnel guys, I’d be around every week [until I’m] 40, 45 years old, but that’s not my decision. If I was one of the personnel guys’¦ but I don’t make those decisions.”
This time against the Texans, Branch is convinced the Patriots will see a much different – and better – opponent. He was asked what he thought of the Texans being considered a “cupcake” opponent.
“No, trust me, you’re going to see a different Texans team,” Branch said. “That we all know, I promise you that. They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately they ran into a couple stumbles but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.”
Here is the rest of Tuesday’s press conference with Deion Branch at Gillette Stadium:
Q: How big of an advantage could it be to have Rob Gronkowski  back?
DB: It’ll be great. It will be big for us. I’m pretty sure the coaches are going to continue to install Gronk through the game plan to make sure he gets his touches and he’s around the ball.
Q: Knowing that you’re closer to the end of your career than the beginning, do you give it any thought that this could be your last time?
DB: No, I don’t think about that part. I don’t think about, especially ending as far as the postseason. Each year, whatever team you’re on, that may not be the first goal. Your first goal is winning the division, if you win the division, you’re in the postseason. No I don’t really think about that. I’m just year-to-year.
Q: How about thinking about how the opportunities are more limited now?
DB: Exactly. This is what it’s all about now, the opportunity. Just make sure I’m there for my team whenever my name is called upon; just doing my job.
Q: What kind of style are you seeing from Johnathan Joseph  on film?
DB: It’s a little of everything. I think Coach [Wade] Phillips  has all the guys playing great. I think the best thing about that position for him and the rest of the guys is that they can trust their front line and front seven to get to the quarterback and that allows them to do a couple things in the back and make some plays. They do a great job. I think overall all those guys are playing pretty good.
Q: When the front seven can get there like that, does the ball need to come out quicker or is that too simple?
DB: Trust me, we want to make sure we get the ball out of Tom’s [Brady] hands and make sure that we’re doing what we’re supposed to do and we’re where we’re supposed to be at for Tom. We can’t worry about what the front line is doing. We have to do our job. I think so far everything has been good. We have been doing it and right now we need to do a little bit more for the guys to make sure we’re down the field where Tom wants us to be and I think we’ll be OK.
Q: What are the differences between Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph?
DB: I think they’re both about the same. Both of the guys are pretty physical guys, very instinctive players. They’re great with the ball; they have a lot of great hand-eye coordination. Both of those guys make plays on the ball. I think the safeties ‘ [Glover] Quin and [Danieal] Manning ‘ both of those guys are very active as well, especially in the run game. I think they have the right guys in place to run the system that they’re running.
Q: Do you still get pumped up for the postseason?
DB: Always. I get pumped up for the regular season games, all of it. It’s a blessing just to play this game and now to be in the position that we’re in.
Q: You have a lot of guys on this team who play big roles who have never been in the postseason before. How do you tell them what it’s going to be like?
DB: I think this is the time for the veteran guys to show them that in practice and in the meeting rooms. We don’t want to wait until game day, that’s sort of too late. I think it’s all about getting focused, being in tune right now in the meeting rooms and our walkthroughs and then carrying it over to the practice field. Once the guys see the sense of urgency that the veteran guys are putting out on the football field, the guys that haven’t been a part will just fall right in.
Q: Did that start last week or did it start today?
DB: It started last week. We had some great practices last week and then started off today as well.
Q: What are some of the benefits to playing a team in the postseason that you played in the regular season?
DB: I think the only thing is we both have film on a game from a couple weeks ago. I think that’s about it. As far as what the score was, the game that we won four or five weeks ago doesn’t matter. This is a one-game season. We play each other at 4:30 Sunday, that’s the only game that matters, for both teams, especially for us.
Q: Does it help to look at their most recent game from last week as opposed to looking at the film from your game with them in December?
DB: It’s good but the difference is they’re playing Cincinnati. We know for a fact that it’s going to be a totally different game plan. We don’t do the same things that Cincinnati does. It still rolls back to the film that we have of each other. Once the game starts, there’s going to be a bunch of different things they’re throwing around on both sides of the ball. Once the game settles down, we should see exactly what they’re doing.
Q: Do you have to wait for them to start the game to see what they’re doing?
DB: No. I think our biggest thing is to make sure we come out and start fast, regardless of what they’re doing. We have a great game plan and I know we’re going to continue to progress as the week goes on. Today we started with some great plays, went out and executed those plays and we’re expecting the rest of the week to be the same. We want to make sure we start fast.
Q: What is the game plan?
DB: Man, that’s a tough one. You almost got me.
Q: How much more forward do you look to a playoff game as opposed to a regular season game when you’re at this juncture in your career?
DB: I think that’s the most important thing that you just said, going into my 11th year and I’m still having a lot of fun. I love playing the game. I enjoy being in the locker room, being around my teammates and I think this is what it’s all about. We spend so much time together as players. This is where we want to be, this is the position we want to be in and hopefully we can better ourselves as the postseason goes on.
Q: Does the way last season ended provide extra hunger and motivation?
DB: You can say so but last year was last year. We want to make this team, the 2012 Patriots team, a special team. Each year is going to be something different. We’re a lot better than we were last year. We don’t have the same players. That team, the 2011 team, was totally different from this year. But you can use that as a little motivation.
Q: Tom Brady  needs just one more win to be the all-time winningest quarterback in the postseason. What is his demeanor as he leads the team in the playoffs?
DB: You see it in the classroom, you see it on the practice field. This is the same leader that when I came into the league in 2002, he’s still the same way. He’s still motivating guys, pushing guys. He’s a perfectionist and we all strive for it. At the same time, we all know that we’re going to make some mistakes but let’s make sure we do a little bit more, make a lot more plays than our opponents and that’s what it’s all about.
Q: Do you use the Jets loss in 2010 after beating them in the regular season as motivation?
DB: I promise you we don’t think about that. That one hasn’t come up at all.
Q: Some people say that you guys lucked out. What do you think about that?
DB: Anybody can say that. Just like we felt like we threw a bunch of games early in the season. We got the number two seed because that’s what we deserved. We put ourselves in that position. We went out and didn’t take care of business on our own so we had to depend on someone else. I think most of all, there’s nothing we can do to control that part. We can just go out and play and the position we were at with the seeding, it is what it is.