TOKYO -- The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a strong game from rookie quarterback Chris Simms and picked up where they left off last season, defeating the New York Jets 30-14 Saturday in the American Bowl.
Simms started the second half and led a drive that culminated with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Barlow 45 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Buccaneers up 20-7 in the NFL's exhibition opener.
|Anthony McFarland (left) and Warren Sapp take down LaMont Jordan.(AP)|
"We've got a long way to go still," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden. "We enjoyed Tokyo enormously, but we're ready to go home now."
Gruden was impressed with Simms, who was drafted out of Texas and is the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms.
"He definitely has ability and he proved it tonight," Gruden said. "We had solid execution and I like the attitude of our team."
"I had a blast here," Sapp said. "The best thing I liked about Japan was the sushi. It's always good to win, and you don't want to get on that 13-hour flight after a loss."
Tampa Bay's Ralf Kleinmann kicked two field goals, including a 36-yarder with nine minutes left that made it 30-7. Bollinger threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Reid just before the two-minute warning to cap the scoring.
Jets fans didn't have much to cheer about, but the highlight for Japanese fans came in the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Bollinger completed a 44-yard pass to Yoshinobu Imoto.
Imoto was one of two Japanese players in the American Bowl. Linebacker Shinzo Yamada played in one series for Tampa Bay.
The trip to Japan is part of an effort by the NFL to broaden the appeal of American football in foreign markets.
Saturday's game was the 12th American Bowl in Japan. Last year, the Washington Redskins defeated the San Francisco 49ers 38-7 at the Osaka Dome in western Japan.
The Buccaneers scored in the first quarter when Martin Gramatica kicked a 37-yard field goal.
Kleinmann kicked a 36-yarder in the second quarter to make it 7-6. Thomas Jones gave the Buccaneers a 13-7 lead with 12 seconds left in the first half, scoring on a 4-yard run.
The Associated Press News Service
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