Pats pan Plax's pick

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

PHOENIX -- As Super Bowl guarantees go, boastful Plaxico Burress never will be confused with the founder of the format. Broadway Joe Namath he is not.

He is, however, an important enough player on a stage large enough that when he issued a 23-17 New York Giants win as his prediction for Super Bowl XLII, more than a few parties took notice.

At first it got him in his coach's dog house and caused the proud Giants ownership to cluck their disapproval.

The New York tabloids, just as they did when Namath issued the most famous guarantee for the Jets in Super Bowl III, have made it screaming headline material for three days and counting.

And yesterday came the really bad news: The prediction, however meek and harmless it was when first spewed out of Burress' mouth, now is embedded in Tom Brady's brain.

The Patriots quarterback addressed the issue for the first time yesterday and quite willingly accepted the challenge.

"We are only going to score 17 points? Okay," Brady said breaking out in laughter when informed of the proclamation. "We've been dealing with that all season. He should have said 45-42. Give us a little credit for scoring some points."

Then game the zinger: "Is Plax playing defence?"

That would be a big fat no, but pity to those Giants who do.

It's no secret that the Patriots don't take kindly to such aspersions tossed their way. Never mind that Burress is saying what he should be -- does anyone think he should be forecasting a Giants loss? -- it never sits well with the Patriots.

After the so-called Spygate affair in which the Patriots were caught cheating by filming signals of opposing coaches, New England took if personal and started a string of prolific blowouts. Best of all, though, was the 34-13 thrashing laid on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 9.

Rookie Steelers safety Anthony Smith boldly had guaranteed a victory, assuring the masses that the Steelers would halt the Patriots' undefeated season.

"We've been dealing with that all year," Brady said yesterday. "You saw what happened to Pittsburgh."

That we did. Brady threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns, three of them directly victimizing Smith.

"No matter what you say during the week, it comes down to how you play," Brady said after the Steelers game.

Little wonder, then, that Giants coach Tom Coughlin is peeved at Burress. Bad enough that his team scored 216 fewer points than the Patriots during the regular season making this the greatest disparity the Super Bowl has seen in that category.

Now, it appears Brady will be on a mission beyond getting a fourth championship ring and finishing off an undefeated season, one in which he led the Patriots to an NFL-record 589 points, including a single-season record 50 touchdown passes.

"I will speak with Plaxico in a private way," Coughlin said yesterday. "And that's where it will remain."

For his part, Burress had his tail between his legs yesterday, arriving more than half an hour late for the Giants' media session at the team's glitzy desert resort.

"I don't understand what all the fuss is about," Burress said. "Nobody wants to lose. I don't have a problem with it. I'm a confident player. You can't take to the field without being confident."

As for the prediction that Brady and company will be held to less than 20 points for the first time in 25 games, Burress had an explanation.

"I know we can't stop them, but for us to win the game we have to control the ball, be effective on third down and keep them off the field."

Good luck with that. Don't be surprised if Burress gets a well-timed shot to the chops from Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau or Tedy Bruschi.

As for Brady, he will get his shots in a different way. "We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody," Brady said.

They don't make predictions either, preferring instead to make those who do pay dearly.

"The only thing with a prediction," receiver Randy Moss said yesterday, "is you've got to make it happen."


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