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Saturday, September 25, 2004 

Young Guns

Two young quarterbacks made mixed debuts last weekend. Chris Simms made his first appearance in relief of a woeful Brad Johnson (4-7-1-34) and nearly rallied Tampa Bay. Seattle won 10-6, primarily because Tampa's offense stalled near the goal line 3 times (24 and 27 yard FGs by Martin Gramatica, then Michael Boulware intercepted Simms near the goal line to clinch it). Simms went 21-32 for 175 yards and that interception. It's a hard call for Gruden, but I'd let Simms play and let Charlie Garner run the ball to keep the pressure off. The Bucs are already 0-2, and they certainly do not look like a playoff team even with Johnson.

In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger was forced to play after Tommy Maddox hurt his elbow in a 30-13 loss to Baltimore. Roethlisberger put together a decent line (12-20-2-176, 2 TDs in fourth quarter), then was ripped by veteran offensive lineman Alan Faneca. Real class... I guess he forgot how bad Maddox fared before the injury (4-13-0-67). Maddox is now out for at least 6 weeks, so the "child" (Faneca's words) will run the team. The AFC North is so wide open that Pittsburgh may still have a shot, but they'll need a better effort from Duce Staley (16-57 yds) than he showed last Sunday.

Fans in Buffalo may look at these stories and wonder if J.P. Losman would be better than Drew Bledsoe. Comparing Bledsoe with Maddox is laughable, and Johnson seems to always get hurt. I wouldn't write off Drew Bledsoe just yet.

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