Although the efforts of fullback Mike Alstott, who had two touchdowns and a game-winning two-point conversion, and defensive end Simeon Rice, who had two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception, should be applauded, it was Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms who deserves the most praise in the Bucs' 36-35 win over the visiting Washington Redskins. Simms, who is just two games removed from one of the worst games he's ever quarterbacked, produced his best performance as a pro against the Redskins, completing 15-of-29 passes for 279 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Simms, who won his first career start on Sunday, is this week's PewterReport.com Pewter Player of the Game.
"This was a great step forward for Chris (Simms), a great step forward," said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden after the game.
Simms appeared relaxed in the pocket and under complete control of the offense as he hit Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Edell Shepherd for touchdown passes. Galloway finished with seven receptions for 131 yards and hauled in Simms' first scoring pass. Hilliard, who started in place of the injured Michael Clayton, had three catches for 37 yards and his first touchdown as a Buccaneer. Shepherd stepped up big in the second half with a big gain of 46 yards and a 30-yard touchdown from Simms that proved to be the game winner.
"We had kind of seen the coverage there earlier in the game and I know we said all week people need to watch out for Edell Shepherd and he made a great little double move on a slant-go and I just put it up there for him and he made a great play in the end zone," said Simms.
Simms earned the respect of his teammates and coaches as he had a turnover-free game and was elusive enough not to get sacked, thanks in part to great protection from the offensive line and his backs and tight ends, who assisted in blitz pickup.
With his three-touchdown peformance, Simms now has five touchdowns and four interceptions on the season.
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