- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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At Long Last
On Sunday, 10 months after Jeff Hostetler quarterbacked the Giants to the NFL championship on the same Tampa Stadium field, Phil Simms got the opportunity to play in his own personal Super Bowl. It was only a regular-season game against the 2-9 Buccaneers, but that didn't diminish his performance. Simms proved to anyone who has doubted him in this, his most disappointing season, that he still has what it takes to be a winner.
"That's a $3 million quarterback you're talking about," said Tampa Bay linebacker Broderick Thomas of Simms, who relieved an injured Hostetler in the third quarter and guided New York on a 90-yard, game-winning drive in the final 1:41. The 21-14 victory put the Giants' record at 7-5 and kept them in the slugfest for three NFC wild-card playoff berths.
"Did I have any doubts about myself?" said Simms, 36, on Sunday night. "No. There was nothing to put any doubt in my mind. I still knew I could play. And I will. I'll play [full-time] again, sometime, somewhere. Sometimes this fall I've gotten down in the dumps, but knowing I'd play again is the only thing that kept me going sometimes."
Last season it was Simms who was knocked out of the starting lineup by an injury, a sprained right arch after he had gotten the Giants off to an 11-3 start. Hostetler came on and led New York to five straight wins, the last its Super Bowl victory. With the exception of mop-up duty in a 30-7 loss to the Eagles on Nov. 4, Simms had not taken a game snap since suffering his injury.
Nobody knew quite what Simms had in him on Sunday when he relieved Hostetler, who chipped his third vertebra when he was slammed to the ground by Thomas and who will be sidelined for two to three weeks. But Simms showed plenty on the decisive TD march, which started at the Giants' 10-yard line: Simms to Mark Ingram for nine yards, Dave Meggett carries for four yards, Simms to Ed McCaffrey for 13, Simms to Meggett for 11, Simms to Odessa Turner for seven, Simms to McCaffrey for five, Simms to Stephen Baker for 11, Simms to Baker for 30 and a touchdown.
"He's had that touchdown drive in him a long time," said Simms's wife, Diana.
? Patriots 16, Bills 13: Buffalo (10-2) should have won this AFC East matchup by, oh, 50 points. The Bills blocked four New England kicks, sacked Hugh Millen six times, intercepted two Millen passes and held the Pats (4-8) to 2.7 yards per rush. One problem, though—the real Jim Kelly didn't show up. AFC defensive coordinators should study what New England's Joe Collier has been doing against the Buffalo quarterback. In two Bills-Pats games this year, Kelly has thrown two touchdown passes and six interceptions. Against the rest of the league, he has 24 TD throws and eight interceptions.