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Patriots respond to Burress' claim about WRs

Plaxico Burress has made some amazing catches. And this amazing statement: His Giants may have better receivers than the Patriots' very deep group of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Plaxico Burress has made some amazing catches.

And this amazing statement:

His Giants may have better receivers than the Patriots' very deep group of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney.

The response from New England? No laughter, no putdowns, no he-said-what?

Just check out what happens on the field.

"The good thing about the National Football League and I think in life, you have opportunities," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said, "an opportunity to make sure that comes to light. So we'll see."

The wide-receiver advantage belongs to New England as it prepares for the Super Bowl against New York next Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Moss set an NFL single-season record with 23 touchdown catches, one more than Jerry Rice. Welker tied for the league lead with 112 receptions. Stallworth made catches that gained at least 30 yards in seven of the Patriots 18 games. And Gaffney scored six touchdowns, including an 8-yarder in the last minute to give New England a 27-24 win at Baltimore and a 12-0 record.

That's pretty tough to keep up with.

Harrison, a 14-year veteran, said the group "is the best I've ever been around."

By comparison, the Giants production falls short.

Burress was outstanding with 70 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns. Amani Toomer was solid, catching 59 passes for 760 yards and three scores. After that, the numbers fall off.

The tight end matchup is more even.

New York's Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes for 619 yards and three touchdowns but was sidelined for the season after 11 games. Rookie Kevin Boss has started for the Giants in the playoffs, and has registed only four receptions in three games. New England's Benjamin Watson had 36 catches for 389 yards in the regular season, but six went for touchdowns. He added two scoring catches against Jacksonville in the divisional playoff game.

Burress, though, is very confident, no matter what the numbers say.

"We have guys that can go out and do things just as well or maybe better than some of those guys," he said last week.

In the Patriots 38-35 win over the Giants in the final game of the regular season, the 6-foot-5 Burress caught two touchdown passes from Eli Manning. He also burned 5-9 cornerback Ellis Hobbs for a 52-yard completion.

"He's got such long arms," Hobbs said. "A normal throw from Eli that is too high for an average receiver is like normal for" Burress.

In last Sunday's NFC championship win over the Green Bay Packers, Burress overwhelmed 6-foot-1 cornerback Al Harris and set a Giants postseason record of 11 catches, picking up 151 yards.

"Plaxico is a really good receiver. I know him personally," Stallworth said. "He's a great player and he's out there to make plays for his team, just like we're trying to do for our team. We're not playing against those guys. I'm not going to be covering Plaxico or anything like that any time soon, so comparisons don't mean anything right now."

Tom Brady and his receivers were the main reasons why New England set an NFL single-season scoring record of 589 points. New York had 373.

The Patriots also led the NFL with 295.7 yards passing per game. The Giants averaged 197.1, ranking way back at 21st in the league.

But Moss had a total of just two receptions in the Patriots' two playoff games as Jacksonville and San Diego guarded him with two or three defenders.

"It's not about catches and stats," Harrison said. "It's all about wining. Coach Belichick, whether you're a free agent, a draft pick or a guy that's been here for five (or) eight years, he tells you (to) check your ego at the door, and that's what Randy's been doing."

Stallworth has done that, too. A deep threat, he's usually the third or fourth option when Brady surveys the field for his tempting choice of wide receivers.

But there's some consolation in Stallworth's belief that he's part of the best receiving corps he's played on in his six NFL seasons.

"Obviously, when you have a guy like Randy, and Wes is being able to work the slot really well, and Jabar," Stallworth said. "We wouldn't be able to do what we're doing if the guys up front weren't giving Tom a whole lot of time, and, obviously, Tom getting us the ball, so it's not only receivers. But talent-wise, we're pretty deep."

Burress, though, ranks the Giants' receivers in the Super Bowl right up there with Moss and his partners who have helped Brady set an NFL record of 50 touchdown passes in a season.

"I don't see why not," Burress said. "We're both going to be on the same field."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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