Ellis Hobbs knew he was in deep trouble.
There’s a moment in time when you watch Plaxico Burress’ game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLII. You can see the Patriots cornerback Hobbs watching in total, utter desperation.
I was 19 when the Giants won that Super Bowl and it will forever go down as one of my greatest memories in sports. The crowd let out a deafening roar as Burress caught the ball. The excitement was palpable: the Giants were about slay the dragon and we were all going to be witnesses.
Plax takes you inside the game-winning drive
On a recent episode of the Up On Game podcast with Lavar Arrington and TJ Houshmandzadeh, Burress took us deep into exactly what happened during that final drive.
Here’s what Burress said:
“Walking out on the field for that game-winning drive with two minutes and 39 seconds and knowing that, listen, we’re gonna have to go out there and score a touchdown if we want to win this game.
And I remember being on the field, and [former Giants offensive tackle] David Diehl and [former Patriots defensive tackle] Richard Seymour were going at it during a TV timeout. And Richard Seymour basically looked at me and Diehl, and gave us the throat-cut sign like this game is over. And I remember Diehl saying, ‘No, it ain’t over yet, baby.’ And that was the mindset that we had because we didn’t waver going into that drive. We knew that we had to score a touchdown.
“And you talk about the helmet catch, you talk about my catch, but there are three or four plays that I remember vividly that helped us win the game. If [former Giants running back] Brandon Jacobs doesn’t get a fourth-and-1, the game is over with. He runs into the back of [former Giants offensive guard] Chris Snee, he doesn’t go anywhere, he fights for an extra yard and a half and we get a first down.
“And then we have a busted route on the outside, and [former Patriots cornerback] Asante Samuel drops an interception. And if you know Samuel, he don’t drop picks. If he gets his hands on anything, he’s snatching it.”
“And he drops the football! And I’m like, man, destiny must be in front of us because as long as I’ve been playing, Samuel does not drop picks.
“And then we get a third-and-ten and we throw a diagonal slant. Two slants on the outside, and Smitty [former Giants receiver Steve Smith] runs the little five-yard diagonal. And Smitty’s a rookie, but he has the mental capacity to know it’s third down. He turns it up, takes two steps and dives for a first down. What’s the probability of us getting a fourth-and-ten? And Smitty was the rookie. One of the smartest wide receivers I’ve been around for a young guy.
“And then coming out for that game-winning touchdown, we get the call. New England is running the same coverage, so we keep calling the same play! We keep calling diagonal slant with Smitty running diagonal, with two fronts on the back side. They got me on the weak side hoping I can draw single-coverage. But they keep doubling and we called it a third time and they jumped into a zero.
“And when I break the huddle, Eli grabs my jersey and says, ‘Hey, listen, if they give you one-on-one I’m throwing it.’ And I’m like, ‘Man they’re not going to single me right now.’ And I get to the line of scrimmage and I can’t even believe what I’m seeing. I’m smiling in my mouthpiece like, ‘C’mon man, hike the ball! Don’t even go through the cadence. Just go!’
“It was X fade. But check it out, TJ, they were in cover zero and in cover zero you can’t line me inside because you have no inside help. He wants to use the sideline as his defender. I was in the same position against Ellis Hobbs in Week 16 in that game when the Patriots beat us... And I knew that once he got inside the 10-yard line, he would back up to the goal line and stop his feet. I remember seeing this on film, he did it several times. I said, you know what man, I’m gonna get up to him and shake him. If he remains true to what he has shown me on tape, he’s gonna back up to the goal line and he’s gonna stop his feet.
“I trusted myself, I trusted the preparation, I trusted the film because I had seen him do it over and over again. I said, you know what, if he stops his feet, I’m not even gonna stop and I’m gonna run clean by him and that’s exactly what happened.”
Game over. Giants win the Super Bowl, 17-14.