- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

BALTIMORE — Kyle Boller won the battle of the NFL’s rookie quarterbacks yesterday.

The Baltimore Ravens rookie signal caller outplayed Jacksonville’s Byron Leftwich, who was selected with the seventh pick of April’s draft, 12 spots ahead of Boller.

Boller wasn’t spectacular in Baltimore’s 24-17 victory over the Jaguars, but he didn’t cost his team the game like Leftwich. Jacksonville’s quarterback, who graduated from the District’s H.D. Woodson High School, turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter alone.

With the game on the line and a chance to be the game’s hero, Leftwich threw into quadruple coverage at the Ravens’ 31. Linebacker Ray Lewis made a diving interception with 49 seconds left to seal the Ravens victory.

“It was one of those I would like to have back,” Leftwich said of the interception.

The 6-foot-5 Leftwich completed 22 of 34 passes for 208 yards with one interception, one touchdown, and two costly fumbles. Meanwhile, Boller completed 10 of 23 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown, one interception and just one costly fumble.

On draft day, the Ravens tried to move up from the 10th pick so they could select Leftwich. The Ravens were negotiating with the Minnesota Vikings, who had the seventh pick, when the 15-minute clock ran out. Before Minnesota could make a deal with the Ravens, the Jaguars, who had the eighth pick, swooped in and made Leftwich the seventh player drafted.

Leftwich fumbled three times yesterday when he was hit in the pocket. He lost two of the fumbles which raised questions about his passing technique.

“I can’t answer [about his mechanics] right now,” Jaguars first-year coach Jack Del Rio said. “If he is holding the ball down low, then that is a problem and we will look at that.”

Jamal’s backup breaks out

Chester Taylor, a second-year player out of Toledo, proved he is an adequate backup to Jamal Lewis, the NFL’s leading rusher.

In a game where rushing yards were hard to come by, Taylor ripped off a 29-yard fourth-quarter run. It was the longest rush of the game.

With the Ravens clinging to a 16-10 lead, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound back turned the left corner and waltzed into the end zone. The score put the Ravens up 24-10.

Taylor, who had one other carry for 4 yards, celebrated his second touchdown of the season by jumping into M&T; Bank Stadium’s stands.

“I like that height,” Taylor said of his celebratory plunge. “It isn’t Lambeau or anything. Chris Redman [our backup quarterback] is always making fun of me saying that I can’t jump, so I had to show ‘em.”

Try it again

Remember the old NBA rule when a team reached the bonus — a player had three free throws to make two. It seems it now applies to NFL kickoffs.

In the waning minutes of yesterday’s game, a bizarre situation unfolded when the Jaguars lined up for an onside kick. Kicker Seth Marler kicked the ball before the refs were ready, not once, but twice, and the refs allowed Marler to rekick it each time he beat their whistle.

Instead of penalizing Marler, Marler was allowed to re-tee the ball and try it again. Marler’s first kick bounced to the left side, his second kick squibbed to the right, and his third try finally blooped downfield where the Ravens took over at their 40 with 3:07 left.

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