- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

Giants 30, Ravens 24

BALTIMORE — Forget about the Baltimore Ravens quarterback competition. Rookie Kyle Boller last night ended any lingering speculation about the opening day starter.

Boller tossed two touchdowns and engineered scoring drives each time his offense had the ball in a loss to New York before 68,169 at M&T Stadium. In a little more than one quarter, Boller completed seven of nine passes for 99 yards.

But Boller’s impressive passing was overshadowed by sloppy special teams plays — three fumbles and a partially blocked punt, plus a botched center exchange — that led to 20 unanswered first-half points for the Giants.

The Ravens finished the preseason 1-3 before visiting Pittsburgh on opening day a week from Sunday. The Ravens fumbled five times, lost all five and threw two interceptions.

Behind Boller, the Ravens rolled to 154 yards of total offense in the first quarter alone. The first-team offense led 17-0 with 12:57 left before halftime.

“Our intention going into this game was to move the ball and put some points on the board, and we did that,” Boller said. “My teammates made it really easy for me. They put me in the right position, and good things happened.”

For the second consecutive preseason game, Boller, whom the Ravens picked with the 19th overall selection out of California in April’s NFL Draft, started in place of incumbent starter Chris Redman. Judging from the Ravens’ first possession of the game, coach Brian Billick made the right call as Boller finished with a 152.1 quarterback rating. Redman did little to help his cause as he fumbled away a center exchange deep in Ravens territory and completed one of six passes for just 11 yards.

It took Boller just four plays and his second pass of the game to put the Ravens in the end zone. On third-and-9, Boller connected with Travis Taylor on a 49-yard bomb.

On the second possession, Boller moved the Ravens 53 yards to the New York 8-yard line, but they were forced to settle for a 26-yard Matt Stover field goal for a 10-0 lead. On the next possession, Boller marched the Ravens 71 yards ending with his 1-yard, play-action touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson for a 17-0 lead.

“Let’s talk about the 17 points,” Billick said. “The first unit really looked sharp. They looked good, and this was against a first-team New York defense with the exception of their cornerback [Will Allen].”

Jets 17, Eagles 9

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia and New York had no trouble keeping their starters healthy. They barely used any of them.

Marquel Blackwell threw two touchdown passes, leading the Jets’ backups to a victory over Philadelphia’s second- and third-stringers in the final preseason game for both teams.

Despite resting their starters, the Eagles (2-2) lost a key player when first-round pick Jerome McDougle went down with a left hip and ankle injury in the third quarter. He was taken off the field for X-rays, but the extent of the injuries wasn’t immediately known.

Cowboys 52, Raiders 13

IRVING, Texas — Quincy Carter gave coach Bill Parcells plenty of reason to believe he picked the right starting quarterback.

Carter led Dallas to four touchdowns and a field goal on five drives, scrambling to throw a 69-yard touchdown pass and heaving a 49-yarder against Oakland’s first-string defense in a victory.

The Cowboys (2-2) scored 31 points in the first half, then added three more touchdowns — including a 96-yard kickoff return by Reggie Swinton — to break the team record for points in a preseason game.

Bills 22, Lions 16

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — What every NFL coach fears most in the last preseason game happened to Steve Mariucci and Detroit.

Starting running back James Stewart separated his right shoulder in the first quarter of their loss to Buffalo.

Stewart, who led Detroit with 1,021 yards rushing last season, was hurt six minutes into the game and is out indefinitely. The Lions also lost linebacker Brian Williams, who dislocated his left shoulder.

Bucs 34, Texans 3

TAMPA, Fla. — Shaun King threw for 146 yards and a touchdown as Tampa Bay dominated Houston in their final tuneup for the regular season.

The Super Bowl champions (4-1) outgained the Texans (0-4) 243-47 while amassing 17 first downs to Houston’s two in the opening half. Tampa Bay’s starting defense played only one series, but the Bucs didn’t allow a TD for the second straight week.

Chiefs 22, Rams 6

ST. LOUIS — Two days after Orlando Pace ended his holdout, St. Louis put the All-Pro offensive tackle to the test.

Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk didn’t start for St. Louis (1-3) in the final tuneup for the regular season, a loss to Kansas City in the annual Governor’s Cup game. The Chiefs (3-2) also limited their star players’ exposure or held them out altogether in a game so lacking in drama the biggest cheer of the night came when Kerry Robinson hit a game-winning ninth-inning homer as the Cardinals beat the Cubs at Busch Stadium.

Browns 20, Falcons 9

CLEVELAND — Cleveland ended the preseason with a win and without any issues at quarterback.

Atlanta wasn’t so lucky.

Kelly Holcomb passed for 126 yards in two series and William Green had a touchdown run, leading the Browns to a win over the Falcons.

Holcomb, who beat out Tim Couch for the starting job during training camp, completed a 68-yard pass on his first throw as the Browns (1-3) tuned up for their Sept. 7 opener against Indianapolis.

Cardinals 31, Vikings 27

MINNEAPOLIS — Arizona lost its starting quarterback early but the reserves played well enough to give the team its first 4-0 preseason in 12 years.

Third-string quarterback Preston Parsons ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Cardinals past Minnesota.

The Cardinals lost starter Jeff Blake to a concussion when Vikings tackle Chris Hovan sacked him on the game’s first offensive play — the sack was negated by a penalty on Vikings cornerback Denard Walker.

Dolphins 24, Saints 10

NEW ORLEANS — Jay Fiedler only threw five times and connected just twice. Then, like most of the starters for both teams, he took the night off to save himself for the regular season.

Fiedler, who played in two series, hit Chris Chambers for a 38-yard gain that took the Dolphins to the Saints’ 14-yard line. He followed that up with a touchdown toss to Derrius Thompson, putting Miami up 7-0 in a game they went on to win.

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