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Burress catches touchdown in return

| Monday, Dec. 27, 2004

Wide receiver Plaxico Burress had missed most of the past five games due to a hamstring injury, so he was bound to be a little rusty Sunday.

Unfortunately for him, by the time he was ready to go full speed, the Steelers didn't need him.

Burress caught three passes for 97 yards, including his team-leading fifth touchdown of the season, in the Steelers' 20-7 over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

"It felt good to be out there," Burress said. "It's been a little frustrating. It was just a good feeling to get back out there with the guys and make some plays and contribute."

Burress had been out of action since leaving early in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 21. He made his return felt with his first catch, a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

His second catch was almost as long, a 35-yard reception that came midway through the second quarter with the Steelers leading 10-7. Burress' grab brought the Steelers to the Baltimore 40-yard line, but the drive stalled at the Ravens' 32.

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El said Burress' big-play ability had a huge effect on the game.

"They had to honor the deep ball," he said. "With Plax being in there, they've seen him do it time and time again. He can get up the field and make the big-time play, just like he did today."

For Burress, the first half was about testing his hamstring.

"Especially during the first quarter, I was just trying to get a gauge of where I was when it came to game speed," he said. "I just wanted to go out and get my feet wet. Once I got going and got hit a couple of times, I was like, 'OK, I remember what this feels like.' It was kind of like riding a bike."

By the second half, Burress felt like he had returned to normal. Unfortunately, the Steelers only attempted five passes after halftime due to a combination of the team's dominate running game (183 yards for the game) and an injury to Roethlisberger.

"After halftime, that's when I really started to loosen up," Burress said. "But we were running the football. I was ready to run, but they didn't need me to go out and catch passes."

Burress' final catch of the game came just before the end of the third quarter, a 26-yard pass from Roethlisberger shortly before the rookie QB left the game.

In all, Burress said he was happy with his play yesterday, which helped the Steelers improve to 14-1 and wrap up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

"I'm just at a lost for words on how I went out there and played well today, even though I had been out for a month," he said.

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