- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Kyle Boller took his first step last week to prove the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback situation is not the NFL’s longest-running comedy.

Boller rallied the Ravens in the fourth quarter of a 20-17 overtime win at the New York Jets. In so doing, the oft-criticized Boller finally showed why the Ravens made him a first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft.

With the Ravens’ offensive line in disarray because of injuries and their running game going nowhere, Boller shouldered the load and won an important game on the road.

On the Ravens’ final three drives, Boller completed six of eight passes for 81 yards after going 13-for-25 for 132 yards on his first nine drives. This was the first time in 18 games that he overcame a fourth-quarter deficit.

“I still have a long way to go,” Boller said. “When the opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to make sure to take advantage of it.”

Boller, 23, has endured a barrage of criticism this season from the media, home fans and sports talk radio callers. Despite all the negative comments, Boller has tuned out his skeptics.

Coach Brian Billick has stood by his young quarterback and is saying “I told you so.” In the offseason, the Ravens had opportunities to sign a number of high-profile veteran free agent quarterbacks as an insurance policy for Boller but instead chose bargain-basement Kordell Stewart out of the lucrative free agent waters. Stewart was the only starting quarterback who had a lower passer rating than Boller last season.

“We’ve been criticized for not bringing in Kurt Warner, for not bringing in Mark Brunell, for not bringing in Kerry Collins, and here we sit with Kyle Boller, whom we’ve always had confidence in,” Billick said. “You can draw whatever inferences you want from that.”

Boller is Billick’s guy. He’s now 11-6 in games he has started and finished. Boller has thrown just one interception in his last four games, a Hail Mary end zone heave at the end of the first half three weeks ago in Philadelphia.

No one has questioned Boller’s arm strength, but his accuracy is another issue. In a season-opening 20-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Boller was intercepted twice, lost a fumble and finished with a 49.3 rating.

In a 17-10 win against the Washington Redskins on Oct.10, Boller tossed three interceptions, passed for just 81 yards (nine of 18) and finished with a season-low 22.9 rating.

While the Ravens are still the league’s lowest-rated passing team at 130.7 yards a game, Boller is no longer the NFL’s lowest-rated quarterback. He’s risen to 12th in the AFC with a 70.4 rating.

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