- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller hasn’t outdueled many opposing passers during his two-year career.

However, he clearly was the superior quarterback yesterday. Boller had a career day while Eli Manning turned in a horrific performance for the New York Giants in the Ravens’ 37-14 victory before 69,856 at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Boller capitalized on six Giants turnovers as he threw for a career-high four touchdowns. Baltimore’s most lopsided win of the season improves it to 8-5 and keeps the team in the thick of the AFC playoff race heading into Sunday’s showdown at AFC South-leading Indianapolis (10-3). Meanwhile, the Giants (5-8) have lost six straight.

Manning, the top overall pick in last spring’s NFL Draft, completed four of 18 passes for 27 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns for a 0.0 passer rating. Manning also lost a fumble. The Ravens converted four of the Giants’ turnovers into 20 points.

In making just his fourth career start, the wide-eyed Manning posed no danger to the Ravens’ opportunistic defense, which tied the team record with six turnovers.

“It’s hard any time you come from the collegiate [level] and then play us. The NFL is the NFL. We take pride in defense, and he came out and he struggled a little bit today,” said Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who pounced on a first-quarter fumble by Tiki Barber to set a franchise record with his ninth career recovery. “But like I said, the kid has a great upside. He’s going to have to keep fighting, and he won’t run into our defense every week.”

Boller, who has had his share of bad passing days, was 18 of 34 for 219 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. Boller’s 112.3 passer rating was a career high.

“I feel for [Manning], it’s not an easy task to go against our defense,” Boller said.

Boller threw two touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Clarence Moore, a sixth-round pick out of Division I-AA Northern Arizona, and two touchdowns to tight end Todd Heap. Moore caught touchdown passes of 12 and 8 yards, while Heap scored on 6- and 1-yard tosses.

Moore, who is listed at 6-foot-6, outjumped shorter cornerbacks on both of his touchdowns. On the Ravens’ first touchdown, Moore leaped over 6-foot cornerback Will Peterson on a fade route. Moore then victimized 5-9 Terry Cousin on his second touchdown — a corner route that Boller threw high — with 21 seconds left before halftime to give the Ravens a 24-7 lead.

“Catching with my hands is my main strength, but for me to just go up and grab it out of the air, is easy for me,” said Moore, who has four career touchdowns. “I told Kyle to just throw it up and I’ll come down with it or nobody will. I really mean that.”

The game started poorly for the Giants. Kick returner Derrick Ward fumbled the game’s opening kickoff and gave the Ravens the ball at the Giants 27. Six plays later, Boller hit Moore for a 7-0 lead.

On the Giants’ second possession, Barber’s fumble gave the Ravens the ball at the New York 28. Baltimore extended its lead to 10-0 on a 46-yard Matt Stover field goal six minutes into the game.

“Obviously, we put our defense in some really bad positions today,” coach Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “At least three short-field scores for the opposition. … The turnovers, a repugnant way to play the game.”

The game essentially was over in the first half with the Ravens leading 27-7 at the break. The Giants gift-wrapped Stover’s 44-yard field goal just before intermission when Coughlin decided to have Manning throw trailing 24-7 with 44 seconds left instead of kneeling and heading into the locker room.

Manning was intercepted by safety Ed Reed at the Giants 48. Reed returned the ball 6 yards and then lateraled to Deion Sanders, who took the ball another 16 yards to the Giants 26. With three seconds left before halftime, Stover nailed his second field goal of the game.

Coughlin replaced his prized rookie quarterback with veteran Kurt Warner late in the fourth quarter. Warner, who completed six of nine passes for 127 yards, led the Giants to their only offensive touchdown of the game. Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora returned Boller’s second-quarter fumble 50 yards for New York’s only other score of the game.

“I think I watched the first nine games and I learned best by getting out there,” Manning said of his dismal performance. “Even if I have another day like this, you’re still getting live action. You see what’s going on and you’re still making decisions. It works out for the better if you’re making decisions. Even if you’re learning the hard way, you’re still learning out there.”

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