NFL: Lack of Burress could hurt Giants vs. Eagles
By Rick Gosselin
The Dallas Morning News
By Rick Gosselin
MINNEAPOLIS — The New York Giants have the Lombardi Trophy and home-field advantage when they play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC semifinals.
But the Eagles are more concerned with what the Giants don't have for this rematch of division rivals — wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
No player has tormented the Eagles like Burress has since signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2005. But Burress was suspended by the Giants for the remainder of the season following a gun incident in late November and won't play against the Eagles on Sunday.
In seven previous meetings, Burress posted four 100-yard games and scored touchdowns in five games. He caught a 17-yard TD pass in New York's 36-31 win over the Eagles in November.
Burress was a big reason the Eagles gave Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel a $57 million contract to leave the New England Patriots in free agency last off-season.
Burress didn't play against the Eagles in December, and Philadelphia prevailed, 20-14.
"It's going to be a different situation than the other two games," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "Everything is on the line."
The Minnesota Vikings had the worst special teams in the playoffs, having allowed an NFL-high seven touchdowns this season.
The Vikings ranked last in the NFL in punt coverage, and the Eagles took advantage of that weakness. DeSean Jackson returned punts of 62 and 40 yards to help Philadelphia win the battle of field position. His 62-yarder set up the first score of the game, a 43-yard field goal by David Akers.
The Minnesota Vikings invited the top-three rushers in franchise history — Robert Smith, Chuck Foreman and Bill Brown — to be honorary captains for the playoff game with the Eagles.
Minnesota's current stable of runners then paid homage to those three legends by pounding the NFL's fourth-ranked run defense for 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns. NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson led the way with 83 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Philadelphia's run defense had allowed an average of 92 yards per game this season and only seven touchdowns.
Tarvaris Jackson made his first career playoff start at quarterback for the Vikings, and it became a painful learning experience. He completed 15 of 35 passes for 164 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. Asante Samuel returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown.
"We have to get better in the area when it's a must-throw situation," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.