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Original Issue

Passer Rallies Ravens to Win


Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller is making his critics think twice. On Sunday the second-year passer led Baltimore to a 30--10 win over the Cowboys while playing most of the game without injured All-Pro running back Jamal Lewis and Lewis's backup, Musa Smith. That performance came a week after Boller threw a pair of touchdown passes and directed a game-winning drive for a field goal against the Jets in overtime.

Over his past four games Boller has thrown for 810 yards and five touchdowns with one interception, and on Sunday he turned in arguably the finest performance of his young career. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns while putting up a 106.5 passer rating. Baltimore trailed 3--0 at halftime but gained 163 yards to the Cowboys' 11 in the third quarter. The usually conservative Ravens put the game in Boller's hands; he responded by completing 10 of 15 passes for 142 yards and the two touchdowns in that pivotal period.

"Kyle was very confident at halftime," said Baltimore wideout Kevin Johnson, who caught a 31-yard touchdown pass. "He felt like he was in a rhythm. Anytime you have the quarterback feeling that, you have to let him loose. He did an excellent job with the pressure."

"We kind of got stalled in the first half, but we started executing after that," Boller said. "I saw the field well. The receivers ran great routes, and my line did a fabulous job. Each week I feel more comfortable out there. It's getting easier and easier for me."

It should. The Ravens have invested heavily in Boller's development since making him the 19th selection in the 2003 draft. This season they hired former Giants coach Jim Fassel primarily to work with Boller, who also receives guidance from a quarterbacks coach (David Shaw), an offensive coordinator who was an NFL quarterback (Matt Cavanaugh) and an offensive-minded head coach (Brian Billick). With all that support, Boller is finally starting to show that he can win a game instead of just not lose one. The Ravens, winners of three straight, are 7--3 for the first time in their history.