Branch was responsible for completely shifting Thursday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. With the Chiefs up 14-7 and threatening to add to their lead, Branch picked off a pass from Patrick Mahomes that glanced through Kadarius Toney’s hands and took it to the house to tie up the ballgame.
“If Kadarius would have caught it, it just would’ve been a tackle and we would have been off the field,” Branch told reporters on Monday. “But thankfully, he tipped it–well, he dropped it basically–and I was able to pick it. Picking off Mahomes, that’s a great feeling.”
Branch had an outstanding summer, making plays on a daily basis in training camp. As a result, the Lions could not keep him out of the starting lineup. They opted to move C.J. Gardner-Johnson from nickel to safety, subsequently pushing Tracy Walker out of the starting lineup completely.
“The thing about Branch is man, he’s a playmaker and he came up with a big one for us,” coach Dan Campbell said on Friday. “And I think what’s most encouraging is he’s got a ton to clean up, and when he’s got that stuff cleaned up, he’s going to be that much better, but he’s got a knack for finding the football.”
The Rookie of the Week award is a fan-voted contest. You can vote for Branch here. His competition this week is:
- Colts QB Anthony Richardson: 24-of-37, 223 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 10 rushes, 40 yards, 1 TD
- Rams WR Puka Nacua: 10 catches, 119 yards
- Jets WR Xavier Gipson: Game-winning 65-yard punt return TD
- Falcons RB Bijan Robinson: 10 carries, 56 yards; 6 catches, 27 yards, 1 TD
- Ravens WR Zay Flowers: 9 catches, 78 yards
Last year, both Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston won Rookie of the Week awards, with Hutchinson winning the fan-voted Rookie of the Year honors, even though Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner would go on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.