What If Plaxico Burress Didn’t Shoot Himself?
By Neal Lynch
Plaxico Burress’ final numbers in 2008 look like this: 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. If Plax hadn’t shot himself and played out all 16 games of the season, his stat line might look like 56 catches for 726 yards and 6 touchdowns, which would’ve rivaled actual team leader Steve Smith (57, 574, 1). It would still go down as Plaxico’s least productive season as a Giant.
After Plax shot himself, the Giants went 2-3 down the stretch, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings by a total of 19 points. Throw in 2 or Plaxico Burress touchdowns and it’s possible the Giants go 14-2 or 15-1. Of course, Big Blue clinched the #1 seed and homefield advantage with their overtime win against the Carolina Panthers, so the final record might not matter. But, dominating the league and carrying that momentum into the playoffs is more critical than one thinks.
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Instead of rolling into the postseason on a freight train from hell, the Giants limped into their NFC Divisional Round game against the Eagles and looked lame in a 23-9 loss in front of a shocked home crowd. Would the outcome had been any different if the G-Men were armed with Plax?
In seven regular season games Plax has played against the Eagles, he averaged a little less than 5 catches for 80 yards and a score. In the lone playoff game Burress suited up as a Giant against Philadelphia in January 2007, he had five snags for 89 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 Wild Card loss.
In that January 2009 Divisional Round loss to the Eagles at home, the Giants kicker John Carney missed a pair of field goals, which would’ve cut the final score to 23-17 and had Plax and his one touchdown average vs. Philadelphia been involved, you’re looking at a narrow victory for Big Blue. As it stood, running back Derrick Ward led the team in receptions with five while tight end Kevin Boss led in receiving yards with 52. Burress’ averages would’ve topped both of those.
Next: THE ALTERNATE 2008-09 POSTSEASON RUN