Fitzgerald Shows Giants What They Were Missing

By Patrice Evans
|  Monday, Jan 19, 2009  |  Updated 6:40 AM EDT
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Fitzgerald Shows Giants What They Were Missing

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Larry soared past the Eagles

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In last year's NFC Championship game, self-shooting wide receiver Plaxico Burress helped propel the Giants into the Super Bowl with a franchise record 11 catches and 154 yards. 

One year later, Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald racked up the same number of yards (154, it's the magic NFC Championship number!) along with three touchdowns against the Eagles on Sunday. The Giants can only wonder what might have been had Burress not put a Sopranos-style hit out on his thigh. 

Fitzgerald -- who is seemingly in the process of anointing himself as the NFL’s best wide receiver -- controlled the Eagles secondary notching all three of his scores in the first half, despite coming into the game as the defense's top priority. And while Larry is the younger and more explosive player, he and Plaxico share a similar skill set; they both physically dominate the individual matchup at the point of the catch forcing defenses to adjust to their presence. Once the eyes of Giants fans got adjusted to the sight of actual wide receiver play, they surely shed tears soon after realizing how much Plax means to the Big Blue offense; it's about as much as Larry means to the Cardinals.

Teams can get by in the regular season, but when it matters most playmakers like Fitzgerald and Plax are the difference between Super Bowl or bust. Burress was not having his best statistical season, but his presence was the difference between the Giants being one of the best offenses in the league and mediocrity. And mediocrity, as we saw this Sunday and last, doesn't cut it in the playoffs. 

Much like last year's NFC Championship game, this result will only underscore Plaxico's positive on-field impact, and complicate attempts to keep him off the team for reasons related to his much cloudier sense of ethics and judgment. 

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