- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 28, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller has been coming on of late, passing for more than 200 yards in three of his last four games.

Today at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., Boller gets the ultimate test against Super Bowl champion New England (9-1). With star running back Jamal Lewis out with a sprained right ankle, the Ravens’ chances of upsetting the Patriots rest on Boller’s right arm.

The good news for Baltimore is Boller has become more accurate. In the first six games, Boller was 72 of 128 for 736 yards two touchdowns and five interceptions for a quarterback rating of 69.6. In his last four games, Boller is 83 of 135 for 810 yards with five touchdowns and one interception for an 87.4 rating.

“There was that growth,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “There was improvement every week and understanding what we were doing. He played better in the first half of the season than you all [in the media] were giving him credit for. The numbers weren’t particularly impressive, and that’s what everybody focused on, but the way he was playing and what he was doing was pretty good.”

Boller, 23, doesn’t see many similarities between himself and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. However, Boller is envious of what Brady has attained.

“I would like to be like Tom Brady some day with two Super Bowl rings on my fingers,” Boller said.

The Ravens (7-3) know the road to this year’s Super Bowl goes through New England, winners of two of the past three titles. Key injuries in New England’s secondary could give Boller some open receivers. Veteran cornerback Ty Law (foot) is out and cornerback Tyrone Poole (knee) is doubtful. Backup corners Asante Samuel and Randall Gay are struggling to recover from injuries.

“Obviously, when you lose your best corner [Law], one of the best cornerbacks in the National Football League, it makes it tough,” Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. “Communication becomes a little different because I’m used to playing with Ty on one side. We’re missing Tyrone Poole on the other side, but Troy Brown has come over and done a great job for us.”

The Patriots’ ninth-ranked offense will have its hands full with the Ravens, who have allowed a league-low 140 points this season. The opportunistic defense has scored a touchdown in five of Baltimore’s seven victories.

Meanwhile, Brady has thrown a touchdown pass in 16 consecutive games and running back Corey Dillon (4.8 yards a carry) needs just two rushing yards to top 1,000 yards for the seventh time in his career. The Ravens faced Dillon 14 times when he played for division rival Cincinnati and held him to just 56 yards a game and 3.4 yards a carry.

“That was probably last year the one thing that they really didn’t have, a consistent running game to balance with all of the other things that they have,” Billick said. “They have that now, and that’s why everyone is saying accurately, I think, that this is even a better team than last year’s team.”

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