Plaxico Burress reflects on 3-TD game

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress was stuck in traffic on Route 17, not far from Met Life Stadium, when the enormity of the day hit him.

He reflected on his journey, from Super Bowl XLII to prison to aging wide receiver to three touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers.

As he sat in the back of his car, riding home from the Jets' 27-21 victory on Sunday, Burress got emotional.

"(I was) just shaking my head, just envisioning getting back to having fun, playing at a high level and thinking about everything I put my family through," he said Monday. "It was gratifying and humbling."

It was the kind of day he often dreamed about while serving a two-year sentence for illegal weapons possession, wondering if he'd be the same player that dominated the 2007 postseason with the New York Giants.

After struggling through the first six games, with people whispering that he was washed up, Burress erupted for three touchdowns. He dominated in the end zone, if not the entire field, hauling in scoring passes of 3, 4 and 3 yards from Mark Sanchez. He finished with only four receptions for 25 yards, but he was money.

"Unbelievable," teammate Darrelle Revis said.

Burress gave all three touchdown balls to his 4-year-old son, Elijah, who must have thought it was an early Christmas.

"After the third, he was like, 'Daddy, you got three?'" said Burress, doing his best child's voice. "He was so excited he wanted me to take him to school, kind of a show-your-daddy-off kind of thing."

Amid the day-after euphoria of his breakout performance, Burress made two admissions:

He's still not in top shape, conceding that "my legs aren't where I'd like them to be at this point." Along that theme, Burress, 34, confessed that this is the first time in his career that he needs practice to get better. Previously, he got by on talent alone.

"Now I have to go out and practice as hard as I can to play at (a high) level," he said. "I know the only way it'll come is through hard work."

Burress is, by no means, a finished product, as he and Sanchez still are developing their chemistry. In the second quarter, they failed to hook up on what should've been an easy, back-shoulder completion in the end zone, but Burress turned the wrong way.

Later, in the third quarter, they ran the same play, the same pass, and they connected for a four-yard touchdown.

Burress made more red-zone catches against the Chargers (three) than he did in the first six games combined (two). It seemed curious, considering the Jets signed him to help them become better in the red zone. At 6-foot-5, Burress has the ability to post up smaller defenders.

After the game, the second three-touchdown day of his career, Burress was flooded with well wishers. His cell phone had 23 missed calls and 40 text messages.

"It was a great day for us, a long time coming for my family," he said. "I was just enjoying the moment, but knowing there's still a lot of work ahead."

Burress spoke Monday night at a banquet for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The organization initially pressed for him to go to prison on a weapon possession charge after he accidentally shot himself, but was thrilled to welcome him as an ally when he contacted the center about working together.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.