The New York Giants joined the Buffalo Bills yesterday in finding out that their starting quarterback will miss the last two weeks of the regular season, and perhaps more. Both New York's Phil Simms and Buffalo's Jim Kelly were injured Saturday in the Bills' 17-13 victory at Giants Stadium.
Two other teams had quarterbacks injured yesterday. Chicago Bears starter Jim Harbaugh separated his right (throwing) shoulder in a 38-21 loss to the Detroit Lions. Preliminary word is that he will miss three weeks.
Steve DeBerg of the Kansas City Chiefs dislocated the pinky on his left (non-throwing) hand in a 27-10 loss to the Houston Oilers. He left the game, had his hand put in a splint and returned.
Saturday's preliminary diagnosis on Kelly, pending further tests scheduled for today, was a sprained medial ligament of the left knee that will keep him out two to six weeks.
The Bills' medical staff examined Kelly briefly yesterday morning at Rich Stadium, but team spokesman Scott Berchtold said the team will wait for swelling in the knee to subside before conducting additional tests today.
A magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) is scheduled, and team physician Richard Weiss said that will provide more information on the seriousness of the injury -- and how long Kelly will be sidelined.
Simms on Saturday was listed as questionable for next week, but now the Giants say his sprained right foot is worse than thought.
"This is just a guess at the moment," Giants Coach Bill Parcells said after conferring with the team doctor yesterday. "I think we'll have to wait until midweek to be more conclusive, but my best guess now is he is out for the regular season and possibly longer."
Russell Warren, the Giants' team physican, said Simms's injury is near the middle of the foot. There was substantial swelling, Parcells said, adding that Simms today will have a tomograph, an X-ray that shows an organ or tissue at a particular depth.
"It hurts," Simms said. "Last night every time I moved I woke up."
New York now turns to Jeff Hostetler, who completed nine of 16 passes for 97 yards against the Bills after Simms went down. He has started two games in six-plus seasons in the NFL, but the last one was a victory over the Phoenix Cardinals. He also rallied New York over Phoenix this season after Simms was injured.
"Any time you lose your starting quarterback, it's a big loss," Parcells said. "It's part of the game, and you can't dwell on it. I think Jeff can fill in capably and he will."
Matt Cavanaugh will back up Hostetler. Parcells wasn't sure whether he would sign another quarterback.
The Giants are at Phoenix Sunday and at New England to finish the regular season. If New York wins both, it would secure a first-round playoff bye and allow Simms further time to heal.
That too is the Bills' objective heading into Sunday's home game against Miami that likely will determine the AFC East champion and, with it, a bye the first week of the playoffs.
Former University of Maryland quarterback Frank Reich is Buffalo's backup, and he relieved Kelly Saturday and completed eight of 15 passes for 97 yards. Last year when Kelly was hurt, Reich was 3-0 as a starter, playing so well he was rewarded with a five-year, $2.5 million contract.
Both Kelly and Simms were hurt in unconventional manners.
Kelly went down first, twisting his left knee when offensive lineman Will Wolford was pushed into him by linebacker Carl Banks following a pass play.
After Kelly left, Simms sprained his right foot when he was sacked by Leon Seals in the second quarter. The foot was taped at halftime but he came out of the game for good after attempting a third-quarter pass to Dave Meggett, crumpling to the turf without being touched.