First came 9/11, which made Burress appreciate how quickly life can change. He had 66 receptions for 1,008 yards last season. Hitting even closer to home was the death of his 49-year-old mother, Vicki, seven months ago. She died from complications following surgery to amputate her left foot "That changed my whole perspective," Burress says. "Now I leave everything on the field when I play, which is something I couldn't say about myself before. If I die tomorrow, I want to leave a positive impression of Plaxico Burress."
Teammates now praise him for his discipline in running routes and point out that he keeps his head in his playbook. He has become more vocal on the field and in the locker room. Burress even revealed a humble side after Sunday's game, apologizing to the team for not being available in the second half following his ejection.
"His actions [against Baltimore] don't indicate how much he's grown," says Steelers tight end Mark Bruener. "When he came into this league, he didn't know what it took to succeed. But he's learned a lot, and now we all feed off his ability."
Saints' Hand Takes the Blame
Two years ago, after a 31-22 loss to the Raiders, Saints defensive tackle Norman Hand was so disgusted that he didn't even take off some of his uniform before heading home from the Super-dome. On Sunday, after the Falcons ripped New Orleans for 446 yards (including 260 on the ground) during a 37-35 win, Hand, the key to his team's run defense, sat in uniform at his locker for 45 minutes after the game, staring straight ahead or at the stat sheet "The Falcons did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted," he said. "We couldn't get them off the field. It's all on me. I didn't play disciplined [football]." But don't blame it all on Hand: Atlanta had runs of 32, 27 and 56 yards. Where were the linebackers and safeties?...
After returning to the starting lineup and leading the Redskins to a 26-21 win over the Colts on Sunday night, quarterback Shane Matthews refused to deliver an I-told-you-so about coach Steve Spurrier's benching him first for Danny Wuerffel and then for rookie Patrick Ramsey. "I'm just happy we won," said Matthews, who had zero turnovers after Ramsey had seven in the previous two weeks. "I want to do what I can to help the team win. I'd love to have the arm that Patrick has, but I don't. He just needs some experience."....
The Patriots, 3-4 and facing three consecutive road games (Buffalo, Chicago and Oakland), are perilously close to falling out of the playoff race. 'We're never going to push the panic button, but we are pushing the urgency button," said wideout Troy Brown, after New England dropped its fourth straight game, a 24-16 decision to the Broncos.