Deion Branch, with Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft in 2005. (Brian Snyder / AP)

In a move straight out of the Bill Belichick playbook, the Indianapolis Colts have signed former New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch ahead of the teams’ AFC divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

The move is born of need, with Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Colts’ fifth receiver, out this week with a hamstring injury. Branch, 34, was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX during his seven seasons with the Patriots. He was with them for 10 games last season, but has not played in the NFL since. Branch, who lives in Indiana, had worked out with the Colts last month.

“We figured the questions were going to come up,” Coach Chuck Pagano said (via ” ‘Hey you’re signing this guy who spent time in New England. Is it just a coincidence or do you need the guy to help you win a football game?’

“Again, every decision we make is based on what’s best for this team and what gives us the best chance to win. We just think we got one heck of a football player.”

And, at least for a day, he out Belichicked Belichick.