Simms upstages Bengals Palmer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. - The sharpest young quarterback on the field was Chris Simms, not Carson Palmer.

Simms, the second-year pro competing with Brian Griese for Tampa Bay's No. 2 job, completed 12 of 15 passes for 110 yards to help the Buccaneers to a 20-6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

''So far, so good,'' the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms said.

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''It was great to get out there and play someone else besides our defense. I had a lot of fun and definitely got some good experience.''

Palmer, the first pick in the 2003 draft, made his first start since college for the Bengals. The Heisman Trophy winner threw an interception on the game's opening possession and left the game after leading his team to a field goal on the other series he worked.

Jon Kitna replaced him and was 7-of-15 for 58 yards. The Bengals wasted an opportunity to score a touchdown when Kitna lofted a perfectly thrown ball to a wide-open T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but the receiver failed to get either foot down in the end zone.

''Our mistakes pretty much told the story,'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, noting that his team also hurt itself with dropped passes and turnovers.

The coach, however, thought Palmer managed the offense well.

''Stats aren't football,'' Lewis said.

Palmer gave himself a favorable review.

''I'm not happy with the outcome, but we did some good things along with the mistakes,'' Palmer said. ''I felt weird, but I felt great. It's just been so long since I played in an actual game.''

Chris Perry, Cincinnati's first-round pick this year, also got off to a shaky start. The running back fumbled on his first carry, setting up the first of two TDs that Earnest Graham scored for Tampa Bay.

The preseason opener was delayed two days because of Hurricane Charley, which slammed ashore on Florida's Gulf Coast before heading up the middle of the state over Orlando, where both teams were waiting out the storm last Friday.

The Bucs, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars have set up collection programs to aid relief efforts throughout the state, and All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks and five other players signed autographs for fans making donations outside Raymond James Stadium.

''I've seen quite a few hurricanes in my lifetime,'' Brooks said. ''Obviously the pictures tell a thousand words, but to see it in person tells even more. Your heart goes out.''

Palmer completed 3 of 8 passes for 74 yards. After Ronde Barber's interception spoiled his first series, the second-year pro led an eight-play, 60-yard drive that produced Shayne Graham's 36-yard field goal.