The world according to Plaxico Burress
|10.05.11 at 8:36 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The career of Plaxico Burress has been defined by two moments – one of glory and one of ignominy.
On Feb. 3, 2008, he ended the Patriots’ perfect season with one 13-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
“It’s definitely the best,” Burress said when asked about where that memory ranks for him. “Coming into this business, it’s something that you dream of. Playing the wide receiver position, being able to play in the Super Bowl but to win it in the fashion that I did, it’s something that you dream of as a child. To do it against a team that was probably the best in history offensively, what they had accomplished. How big that game was, it’s just something that will always be a part of me. It was a defining moment of a lot of guys in our careers and it was beautiful moment.”
Eight months later, he brought an illegal glock into a New York City nightclub and fired an accidental shot into his leg. He would wind up serving two years in prison for the felony gun charge before getting out this year and signing a $3 million, one-year deal with the Jets.
He had a lot of time to think about that catch while in prison. Naturally, it was a source of inspiration during difficult times in jail.
“It’s just a part of who I am, playing in that Super Bowl and making that catch, in the fashion that we did, driving down the field in two minutes, making that play on that stage,” he said. “It’s just a part of me. It’s a part of history. To me it was the greatest Super Bowl ever played. Like I said, it was a moment that every kid dreams of having. To be able to do go out and execute it and do it in the fashion that we did it against the team we were playing against, it just says a lot.”
Burress still can’t believe his good fortune that led to one of the most dramatic catches in Super Bowl history. On Sunday, Burress – now with the Jets – faces the Patriots for the first time since the catch the crushed New England’s sports psyche and ended the Patriots’ dreams of becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history.
Asked about that catch Wednesday, Burress said he couldn’t believe his good luck when Ellis Hobbs matched up on him in single coverage with no help, just moments before hauling in the 13-yard fade from Eli Manning to put the Giants ahead with 35 seconds remaining.
“It was a play we had run twice,” Burress said. “Eli had told me before we broke the huddle that if they gave me single coverage, he was going to throw it. I’m just thinking to myself, ‘There’s no way they’re going to single cover me at this time of the game, and they actually went with ‘Cover Zero’ with no safety help. Now, I had been watching so much film and watching film of Ellis Hobbs on the 10-yard line to the goal line, and I noticed he likes to stop his feet right around the goal line. I just went up, made a move and never broke stride and kept running.
“I had watched so much film on them that if I had a chance to run that route, I knew exactly how I was going to run it. It actually came down to film and running that exact route as I had seen him do and he did exactly what I had seen him do on tape and I knew when we lined up that I had a great shot to make the game-winning catch.”
To this day, Burress said he can’t believe he was covered by Hobbs with no safety help.
“Very surprised,” Burress said. “They had single-covered me maybe a handful of times that whole game. Coming off the NFC Championship game and the game we had in Week  at Giants Stadium, they were really focused on taking me out of the football game and for them to give me that coverage with that on the line, I didn’t think they would but, thank you.”
What has he seen from the current Patriots defense on film, particularly the secondary?
“I looked at them [Wednesday] morning for a split second,” Burress said. “I know that [Devin] McCourty is a good corner ‘ he made the Pro Bowl last year as rookie. [Patrick] Chung, he is a good player, a good athlete back there being able to make plays. [Brandon] Spikes and everybody knows about Vince [Wilfork] and all those guys. You know, Andre Carter, he’s a good rusher, good defensive end. From what I’ve been able to look at, they have a lot of athletes. They have a lot of speed over there on defense. They have a lot of guys over there that are capable of making game-changing plays.
“[It’s] a different team and different defense. Some of these guys in the back end I haven’t even played against any of them. I haven’t played up there in almost ten years in Gillette Stadium. It’s going to be good to get back, and I expect to get booed by the fans and different things like that, but it’s going to be fun.”
Burress didn’t practice on Wednesday after waking up with some inflammation in his elbow, but still expects to be ready for the game on Sunday.
“It’s fine,” Burress said. “It’s a little stiff, a little sore. I kind of woke up this morning with just a real little inflammation. They shut me down for this evening but it’s nothing that will stop me from playing this weekend. I plan on practicing tomorrow and Friday so they just wanted to take precautionary measures with the swelling or what have you. I’ll be just fine.”
The Patriots have given up at least 10 passing plays this season of over 20 yards. Does Burress see potential for big plays against this Patriots defense this Sunday at Gillette?
“There’re a lot of big plays that they’ve given up just from the little bit of film that I’ve watched,” Burress said. “Hopefully we can go out and execute. We’re going to have to do a good job of protecting ‘ they’ve got so many guys up front with Vince [Wilfork], Albert [Haynesworth] and Andre Carter, so we’re going to have to block those guys up, it’s not going to be easy for us. If they want to play some one-on-one matchups and zone we’re going to have to make plays and get into the defense.”