Ravens 20-Jets 17: Ravens win in dramatic fashion

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An ominous beginning didn't foreshadow the Baltimore Ravens' dramatic finale, nor could multiple instances of calamity foretell the way they would respond.

Long before veteran kicker Matt Stover connected on a 42-yard field goal through a howling wind to decide the Ravens' 20-17 overtime victory Sunday over the New York Jets, Baltimore (6-3) called on virtually every spare tool available on the roster to overcome a 14-0 deficit.

The Ravens' catalogue of increased degree of difficulty included: quarterback Kyle Boller replacing injured holder Dave Zastudil, backup quarterback Kordell Stewart assuming Zastudil's punting duties, B.J. Sams' first-half fumble leading to the Jets' initial touchdown plus injuries to offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo and cornerback Chris McAlister on top of already not having tackle Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap and nickel back Deion Sanders.

"We don't like nothing easy," said linebacker Ray Lewis, whose defense sacked Jets quarterback Quincy Carter five times. "We like it hard. We kept fighting and we started dictating. Really that's just us, chopping away. It was a true gut check."

Eventually, Boller directed his first game-winning drive as Baltimore claimed its first road win over a team with a winning record since a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 4, 2001.

"That's my job," said the 23-year-old Boller afterward, still dressed in full pads except for his helmet minutes after connecting on 21-yard and 10-yard passes to Kevin Johnson and Travis Taylor to set up Stover's boot against the easterly wind off the Hudson River. "That's why I'm the quarterback of this team."

The Jets (6-3) bungled a 14-0 lead with a bone-headed halfback option pass from former University of Maryland running back Lamont Jordan
Jordan wasn't able to sail his pass out of bounds, as Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed dashed away with an interception for 78 yards before a holding penalty on Will Demps negated what should have been a 104-yard interception return.

Reed's play changed the complexion of the football game as it set up the Ravens' first score to begin a 17-0 run. "He's not a quarterback," Reed said. "It was a chance they took."

This decision is likely to be second-guessed heavily in the back pages of the New York tabloids.

"The worst thing that could have happened, happened: we threw an interception," Jets coach Herm Edwards said. "We had the momentum in the first half and we let it get away."

Added Jordan: I take responsibility for this game. I wanted to throw the ball away and I just didn't get the job done. It was a bad decision on my part."

Sams' muffed punt in the second quarter and Jets running back Curtis Martin running roughshod over the Ravens' usually stingy defense for two touchdowns meant Baltimore had to climb out of a 14-0 hole by relying upon unusual methods: Boller's arm and Stewart's punting.

With Zastudil out with a separated shoulder, Stewart was forced to punt five times. Without Zastudil, it was Boller who had to catch long snapper Joe Maese's overtime snap and spin the laces out.

"With Kyle holding, I wanted to kick a 20-yarder if I had to and it came down to 42 yards and I still kicked a 20-yarder because that was the way the wind was going," said Stover, who won two games in overtime last year. "You have to slow down and give him more time. I always tell them to give me two seconds, literally.

"You have to give him the opportunity to do his job because you know he's not too proficient at it. He did a great job."

Boller delivered two touchdown strikes to 6-foot-6 rookie wide receiver Clarence Moore on near-identical patterns. The oft-criticized Boller completed 19 of 33 passes for 213 yards, a 16-yard touchdown to Moore in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-11 to complete a string of 17 unanswered Baltimore points. Most, importantly, he threw no interceptions.

"It's been hard to take the criticism, but this was a team effort," Boller said. "It's a big win for the organization."
Boller lofted an accurate spiral to Moore down the middle for Baltimore's first lead of the game with 4:13 remaining. Boller requested that specific play once more after it worked for a 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter set up by Reed's interception.

"I really wanted the play again," Boller said. "We got the look I wanted, Clarence was going up the seam and he came down with it."
With Jamal Lewis bottled up for 71 yards despite carrying it 30 times one week after complaining about a 22-carry workload in a win over Cleveland and Ray Lewis and Co. allowing Martin to rush for a game-high 119 yards on 28 carries, the passing game was relevant for a change.
Before Boller's touchdown pass to Moore at the end of the first half, he converted a 4th-and-8 with a 23-yard pass to Chester Taylor.

"I thought he was outstanding," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That was the next thing for Kyle to do: to take a team on the winning drive. That was the next step in his evolution."

In his first start in place of Chad Pennington, Carter went 13-for-22 for 175 yards and only 5-for-14 for 43 yards after halftime.
The Ravens won despite Mulitalo breaking his pinkie toe, which isn't that serious, and McAlister suffering a shoulder stinger that will require a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

After Boller's touchdown pass to Moore, the Jets answered on the ensuing drive with a 20-yard Doug Brien field goal to force overtime. New York had a 3rd-and-goal from the 3 with eight seconds remaining in regulation following a Carter completion, but squandered its final timeout instead of going for the end zone.

During overtime, the Ravens were much more decisive before completing the comeback with Boller's passing and Stover's kick. Boller entered the game with a 65.9 passer rating, and posted a 97.2 mark with no turnovers in a pivotal game.

"We showed resiliency and persevered through the tough times," said Stewart, who hadn't punted since high school yet compiled a 35.4 average. "Kyle got better, but it's more complicated than blaming him when things don't go well.

"When things go well, you can't give him all the glory. In this locker room, we keep it on an even keel."

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravensinsider.com and the Carroll County Times.

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