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Webster has rebounded in playoffs to help Giants to Super Bowl

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Although his mother never had the chance to teach him in high school growing up in Louisiana, Corey Webster learned a lot from her.

Lorraine Webster taught her son about life and the things needed to succeed: discipline, self-motivation and a willingness to persevere even when things don't go your way.

Those attributes not only helped the third-year cornerback cope after he lost his starting job early in the season, they are among the big reasons the New York Giants will be in the Super Bowl next weekend against the New England Patriots.

Don't forget, it was Webster's interception in overtime that led to Lawrence Tynes' winning 47-yard field goal in the NFC championship victory over Green Bay.

"I just stick with it," Webster said of the roller coaster season that saw him start, get demoted, be inactive for two games and eventually return to the starting lineup for the playoffs. "It's just the way I am. My parents put it in me from when I was young. When you come up to obstacles, you keep on going. Everything you go through makes you tougher and makes you a better person."

Webster said his mother always stressed the importance of an education in Vacherie, La., where she taught at Saint James High School.

"That's one of the reasons why I came back my senior year in college, to get my degree at LSU," Webster said. "She is more proud of that degree than of all this going on now."

What's going on in Webster's life now is one of those feel-good stories.

A second-round draft choice in 2005, Webster was inconsistent in his first two seasons, struggling to learn at a higher level while battling nagging injuries. He started the first three games this season, but lost his job halfway through the third one after giving up a 49-yard pass to Santana Moss that helped Washington to a 17-3 lead.

With the Giants facing an 0-3 start, Tom Coughlin started first-round draft pick Aaron Ross in the second half.

To many people who follow the Giants, the only thing more surprising than the team's journey to the Super Bowl is that Corey Webster has been an invaluable contributor to it. Full story ...

Webster, who started 10 games in 2006, went into the doghouse. Over the next five games, he was limited to special teams and dime defenses.

The low point came in November when Webster was inactive for Dallas and Minnesota.

It's hard for Webster to forget, walking into the locker room and having either Joe or Ed Skiba, the equipment managers say: "Corey, you're down."

Webster never got down on himself, and his attitude and work ethic impressed Coughlin.

"I didn't know if I had ever seen a guy more into the game than he was on the sideline," Coughlin said, noting Webster helped coach the guys playing and made sure the right players were on the field for changes.

"He just kind of knew that the opportunity would come because of the nature of the position, particularly back there this year for us," Coughlin said. "We have had our injuries. And when the opportunity came again, thank goodness he has played well in that role."

Webster started getting playing time at cornerback in mid-December when Kevin Dockery aggravated a hip injury. Webster iced a playoff-clinching win with an interception return for a touchdown the following week in Buffalo, and he played the nickel cornerback spot in the final regular-season game against the Patriots.

Starter Sam Madison aggravated a pulled stomach muscle in that game and Webster got the starting job for the playoffs.

His return has been like a Hollywood script.

Webster intercepted Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia in the end zone, recovered a fumble on a kickoff return and held Joey Galloway to one catch in the wild-card win.

Against Dallas, he helped limit a gimpy Terrell Owens to four receptions for 49 yards.

Everyone knows what he did in Green Bay with his interception on the second play from scrimmage in the overtime. It was a doubly sweet redemption for Webster, who earlier had given up a 90-yard scoring pass play to Donald Driver after slipping in coverage.

"I had a bad taste in my mouth and I wanted to go out there and within the scheme of the defense try to get one for my defense since I had let one up. After making the interception, Tynes was in the same situation as me. He missed the early two field goals and he wanted the opportunity. Him and me were in the same boat."

Now it's on to the Super Bowl to face Randy Moss, who set a single-season record with 23 touchdown catches, including a go-ahead 65-yarder in the Patriots 38-35 win over the Giants on Dec. 29.

Webster has a shot against Moss because he can use his size -- 6-feet and 200 pounds - and hands to disrupt the timing of his routes.

"I've always known Corey was a tremendous athlete," defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. "But as far as playing cornerback, you have to have a supreme amount of confidence. You can get burnt on one play and be all shook. He is very confident now, and as long as he has that and athletic ability, it's no wonder what he has done."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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