It is the nature of the profession that a cornerback chooses. He can win 45 plays against his opponent, but the four or five times he loses are the ones that people remember.
Yesterday, the Eagles' cornerbacks won most of the matchups against New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. But Burress, an Eagles killer from way back, broke through too many times, catching seven passes for 136 yards and the Giants' only touchdown of the day. The 20-yard pass put New York ahead for good en route to a 16-13 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
Burress, who rarely practices during the week because of a chronically sprained ankle, received pregame treatment for the injury yesterday, then proceeded to make the Eagles pay, burning them often when they blitzed, leaving their corners alone.
"It was just good to go out there and get a little single coverage," said Burress, who had not had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 5 in early October.
In six games against the Eagles since coming to the Giants in 2005, Burress has caught 31 passes for 544 yards, averaging 90.6 yards per game, with four touchdowns.
"He's a big guy, 6-6, two-whatever, and he has good speed and agility, so when you combine all that together, I mean, it's tough," cornerback Lito Sheppard said. "And we play a lot of man coverage. Hey, they make plays, too."
Burress made them against most of the Eagles' defensive backs. He gained 41 yards on a post pattern against safety Quintin Mikell in the third quarter, leading to a 23-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal. His 31-yard catch and run on a curl pattern midway through the fourth quarter set up field position for the rest of the period.
And his third-quarter touchdown beat Philadelphia in a blitz, with its corners in "cover zero" - no safety help behind them. Quarterback Eli Manning saw the pressure coming, and Burress got inside corner Sheldon Brown on a 20-yard slant, scoring with 5 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third.
Said Burress: "It didn't seem like they reacted well to it."
"They were coming on an all-out blitz, and he was the one guy that we had on a moving route," Manning said. "I knew that if I had time to get it to him, we had a chance to score."
Burress would have had another score late in the third, but Manning missed him on a quick slant on third and goal from the 4.
"That's Plax for you," said Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes. "He may drop a couple early in the game, but if you go to him often enough, he'll figure out a way to get the big one. And that was the big one for them."