Giants 17 Ravens 27: Boller finishes strong

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kyle Boller withstood the pressure of one of the most feared defensive players in the league.<br><br> The Baltimore Ravens' second-year quarterback lofted the football to Kevin Johnson for 34 yards with New York Giants All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan draped all over him. Later, Boller spun away from a blitz and floated a touch pass to running back Chester Taylor for a 35-yard gain.

Three plays later, Boller hit Johnson for a short touchdown pass in a 27-17 victory Thursday night in the preseason finale for Baltimore (3-1).

This represents Boller's most impressive showing this summer, albeit against a rebuilding Giants team under first-year coach Tom Coughlin. Boller shined against the Giants last summer, too, but finished with the second-lowest passer rating as a rookie.

"He had a great presence in there," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who was relieved to learn that All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden had a second-degree sprain of his left medial collateral ligament. "The scramble and perfect throw were outstanding. He was the complete package when he was in there."

Not only did Boller complete 6 of 7 passes for 84 yards and no interceptions for the highest possible passer rating (156.2), he appeared much more comfortable and relaxed.

Last year's first-round draft pick executed much better.

After a spotty three preseason games where the offense struggled to score under Boller, it's something to build on. Plus, Boller showed his mettle against Strahan.

"You don't want to panic," Boller said. "You have to make those kind of plays. KJ ran a great route and I had to find a way to get him the ball."

Beyond Boller's contribution, the Ravens were extremely relieved that Ogden wasn't hurt seriously when he got caught under a pileup on a Taylor run in the first quarter.

"Your heart just sinks to look out there," Billick said. "You just got to pray that things are going to be okay. You know what a Jonathan Ogden means to this football team."

Afterward, Ogden's leg was heavily wrapped up. He predicted he would be back in time for the Sept. 12 opener at Cleveland.

"I'm feeling all right, right now, just a sprained MCL," Ogden said. "Hopefully, it responds well. I'll be back next week."

The Ravens entered the game with the lowest-ranked preseason passing game in the NFL.

This time, backup quarterback Kordell Stewart, who has struggled mightily, was on target. He completed all eight of his attempts for 102 yards and didn't have any turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Ravens' top-ranked defense flexed its collective muscle.

Three days after signing his $7.1 million tender after skipping training camp, Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister stepped in front of a Kurt Warner pass and returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown.

"It's great to be back," McAlister said. "I'm still trying to find my bearings."

Earlier, McAlister was beaten for a 49-yard reception by Tim Carter on the Giants' opening drive to set up a Todd France field goal for a 3-0 lead.

"You practice for a reason," Billick said. "He got caught in technique, assignment and alignment. The fact that he came back shows what kind of competitor Chris is."

The Ravens built a 24-3 advantage by halftime behind an offense that scored on a 29-yard Matt Stover field goal and a 6-yard run by backup running back Musa Smith.

Randy Hymes caught a team-high four passes for 55 yards as he made a strong statement for the third receiver spot.

"As long as Kyle and I continue to grow, the chemistry is getting better," said Johnson, who caught three passes for 40 yards. "I think we are going to be a great combination. He felt like he was in total control out there."

The starting defense allowed one touchdown in the preseason, an 81-yard bomb to Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens.

"I think we ended great," All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis said.

Primarily, though, it was a night where the Ravens' prayers were apparently answered that Ogden wasn't hurt too badly.

"It was very scary," Boller said. "I think he's going to be fine. He's such a great offensive lineman and we need to have him out there."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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