Sizzling Simms Set Hoss up for Super Success

The lasting distinction of being the quarterback who led the Giants to their Super Bowl XXV championship belongs to Jeff Hostetler. And there's no taking away from what the career backup did when he righted a damaged Giants ship in the final two games of the regular season, then sailed it past the Bears, threepeat-seeking Niners and explosive Bills into the harbor of heroes.

But it would be a shame if the legacy of That '90 Show doesn't include Phil Simms, who was having one of the best years of his near Hall of Fame career when he injured his right foot against the Bills in Week 15.

True, he wasn't nearly on pace to challenge the 4,044 yards he put up in 1984, but these Giants didn't need that Phil Simms. They needed a calming influence, a steady hand, an unflappable leader.

What they got was a quarterback who completed 59.2 percent of his passes, had a 15-4 TD to interception ratio and played to a 92.7 quarterback rating, all career bests. He also threw the longest touchdown pass of his career, an 80-yarder to Stephen Baker in Washington that was actually a short crossing route and a long run.

What that meant, thanks in large part to Simms, was a 10-0 start that put them in position to earn a first-round bye despite three late-season losses.

Simms' season would come to a painful end on Dec. 15, a miserably cold and wet Saturday afternoon in the Meadowlands.

On the Giants' last offensive play of the first half, Simms was trying to escape the grasp of Buffalo's Leon Seals and Bruce Smith when he sprained his right foot.

"When I walked off the field, I thought it was OK," he said afterward. "It was numb, but I thought once the numbness wore off it would be all right. But once the numbness went away, there was a lot of pain. When we came back on the field to warm up, it didn't feel too good."

Simms would soldier on, but on the Giants' fifth play of the third quarter, he slipped on the slick turf as he completed a pass to David Meggett.

"It felt like someone shot me," Simms said. "I heard it click or whatever."

Though no fracture was detected, the sprain was severe enough to end Simms' season.

After their stunning upset of the 49ers in San Francisco, the Giants flew all night and arrived in Tampa on the Monday before the Super Bowl. Simms got there Wednesday night, skipping the media day insanity.

"The part about sitting is tough," Simms told a handful of reporters. "I don't feel like a part of the team like I do when I'm playing. But I've been through harder things.

"Maybe when I was younger, I would have felt worse," he continued. "But I'm really happy for the team and I'm really happy for Jeff. I can look back a few years from now and say I had a part in two Super Bowls." Simms was reminded of his successes during the season, but he didn't try to put a happy face on the premature ending.

"There was not a lot of satisfaction to the season I had," he said. "I thought I played very well. I did what I was supposed to do. But if you're on a good team, nothing matters except the playoffs."

But as the Giants marched off into their Super Bowl war, the largest among them had a word of remembrance for their fallen leader.

"Phil, for the most part, took us to where we are," Jumbo Elliott said. "He doesn't get a chance to play in the Super Bowl but he took us three-quarters of the way here. He did a great job and we know what he meant to us."

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