Plaxico Burress Could Have Been a "Game Changer" vs. the Eagles

eugene palmerContributor IJanuary 12, 2009

Offense

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb threw for 300 yards last Sunday in a first-round win at Minnesota, but Philidelphia only offensive touchdown came on a 71-yard dash by RB Brian Westbrook on a screen pass. McNabb has thrown for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in six games since his second-half benching at Baltimore on Nov. 23, and the Eagles are 5-1...

The Giants had a bye week to get RB Brandon Jacobs healthy. But they've been inconsistent on offense since losing WR Plaxico Burress, reaching 20 points only once in their final four games of the regular season.

Defense

Two of the league's best are on the field in this game. The Eagles ranked third in the NFL in total defense during the regular season, the Giants fifth. The Eagles limited Vikings RB Adrian Peterson to 83 rushing yards last weekend, and CB Asante Samuel had his fourth career postseason touchdown on an interception return.

Giants DE Justin Tuck tied for seventh in the league during the regular season with 12 sacks, and getting him blocked effectively was key for the Eagles.

Special Teams

Eagles PK David Akers had four field goals last weekend but had two attempts blocked by the Giants in the second of the teams' two regular season meetings.

Giants PK John Carney became the oldest Pro Bowl pick in history after being signed early in the season as a would-be temporary replacement for Lawrence Tynes, who kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl last season with an overtime field goal in the NFC title game.

The game's conclusion definitely had to do with Plaxico's absence. The Giants' failure to convert on third and fourth down had to do with the fact that they were forced to run the ball, due to the wind, Manning's trouble, and not being able to look out to his star receiver, Plaxico Burress. Despite Burress not attending the game, the fault was not all on Eli Manning.

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