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Burress' resilience reflects that of champion Giants

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After another dropped pass in the second half led to another long walk off the field for Plaxico Burress, the outspoken Giants wide receiver looked as though he might wind up being the goat of Super Bowl XLII.

He had put added pressure on himself to produce by predicting a Giants victory during the week and he was not living up to expectations.

Through the first 59:25 of the game, Burress had only one catch for 14 yards and was a non-factor.

Two key third-down drops had stalled the Giants' momentum, and his inability to break free from Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel on two end zone throws cost New York two scoring opportunities.

Everything seem to be stacked against him, and missing practice all week with a lingering ankle injury appeared to be having a significant impact on his effectiveness.

That is when Burress, as he has done all season, defied the odds, his injury and his inconsistency to make the biggest play of the Giants' season.

"They were basically double-teaminmg me all night, playing a man press, playing a guy over the top," Burress said. "We were just waiting for that one time where we could get him over there in single coverage. I gave him a slant fake, he bit it, Eli put it up there and I came down with it."

While the play itself may not have been one of his most acrobatic or spectacular, it typified his -- and the Giants' -- season.

Perhaps no player on the Giants epitomized the team's resiliency and fortitude more than Burress.

Unable to practice the majority of the season while playing on an ankle that he admitted during the week was worse than advertised -- "Most guys who have what I have, they probably would have had surgery and gone on IR" -- he remained steadfast and came up with the clutchest of plays.

Asked about the ankle following the Super Bowl victory, an elated Burress responded, "I don't feel nothing."

His teammates could not speak enough about his ability to fight throught the pain.

Said defensive tackle Barry Cofield during the victory celebration, "He's like a mixture of Joe Namath and Willis Reed, you know. He's hurt, and he comes out and plays, and he predicts, and he does it all."

Added rookie wideout Steve Smith, "Plaxico is like Superman for us on the field. I mean he's confident in what he says, and we backed him up today."

The play would not have been possible if not for unheralded teammate David Tyree's miraculous catch earlier in the drive.

Earlier in the week, Tyree said of Burress, "He's been nothing but giving as far as helping us younger guys, and he just goes out there and goes to work. You gotta love it."

Burress might have scored the winning touchdown, but his impact on the Giants began far before that play in the corner of the end zone with 35 seconds left.

It began with the moments you don't see.

The countless hours of treatment in the training room, the offseason reps on the practice field with quarterback Eli Manning and the useful tips for his younger teammates in routine drills; those are the moments that make a champion.

And Burress is now a champion for the rest of his life. "It's the greatest feeling you can have in sports," he said.

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