Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

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Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO Even with all the off-the-field drama that has consumed the last couple years of Plaxico Burress' life, he'll always be remembered around here for the catch.

Yeah, that catch, the one that catapulted the New York Giants to an improbable 17-14 Super Bowl XLII win over a New England Patriots that, prior to that loss, was arguably the greatest team in NFL history.

The Pats went into the Super Bowl undefeated, in search of joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to ever have a perfect season.

But Burress and the Giants had other plans.

It's been three-plus years since that game, but Burress, now with the New York Jets, remembers it vividly.

"It was a play that, we had run the same play twice," he recalled on Wednesday. "Eli Manning told me before I broke the huddle that if they gave me single coverage, he was going to throw it."

Uh, OK.

Fat chance of that happening, thought Burress.

"There's no way they're going to single-cover me at this time in the game," Burress thought to himself.

But they did. And the 6-foot-5 wideout made the Patriots dearly.

Burress attributes his success on the game-winning Super Bowl catch to watching video and breaking down the tendencies of Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

He noticed that inside the 10-yard line, Hobbs liked to stop his feet around the goal line.

"I just went up, made a move, never broke stride, just kept running," Burress said. "I had watched so much film on him that if I had a chance to run that route, I knew exactly how and when to run it.

Burress added, "He did exactly what it showed on tape. I knew when we lined up that I had a great shot to make the game-winning catch."

At that point, Burress' life could not have been any better. He had money - lots of it. He had the fame that comes with awakening the city that never sleeps, to what Super Bowl supremacy feels like.

But all that success and the adulation that came with it, ended on one eventful night in November of 2008. While hanging out at a Manhattan nightclub, Burress had a gun tucked into his sweatpants. The gun slipped from his waistband, and a shot was fired which hit him in the thigh.

Even though Burress was the only one hurt, he was still looking at potential jail time due to New York State's stringent gun laws.

He was eventually indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, charges that had a minimum 3 12 years of jail time if convicted.

Burress eventually reached a plea deal on lesser gun charges, but was still sentenced to two years in jail. He was released early for good behavior, in June.

Burress acknowledged that while in jail, he did reminisce at times about his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLII.

"Coming into this business, it's something that you dream of; just being able to play in a Super Bowl but to win it in the fashion that I did," Burress said. "It's a part of who I am, playing in that Super Bowl, making that catch in the fashion that we did, driving down the field in two minutes. Making that play on that stage . . . It's a part of me, it's a part of history.

"To me, it was the greatest Super Bowl ever played. It was a moment that every kid dreams of having. To be able to go out and execute it and do it in the fashion that we did against the team that we were playing against, it says a lot."

And even now, Burress remains mystified at why the Patriots left him one-on-one with Hobbs, who being eight inches shorter than Burress, had no shot when Manning lobbed the pass into the corner of the end zone with less than a minute to play.

"They had single covered me maybe a handful of times that whole game," Burress said. "For them to give me that coverage with that on the line, I didn't think they would, but thank you."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)