Ravens confuse Eli Manning in 37-14 win

BALTIMORE -- A rejuvenated Baltimore Ravens defense relentlessly battered and befuddled neophyte quarterback Eli Manning for numbers uncharacteristic to football's famous family.<br><br>They utterly confused the New York Giants' heralded rookie, stole the football away for a team-record tying six turnovers and partnered with a capitalistic offense to manufacture a 37-14 belt-whipping Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

By halting a two-game losing streak that damaged its postseason outlook, Baltimore (8-5) remains tied with the Denver Broncos for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

"This is a big win for us regardless of whatever the Giants' record is and how bad we beat them," said cornerback Gary Baxter, who intercepted his first pass of the season. "This is a confidence-builder and booster for us. This is what we needed.

"We needed to take care of business. This game got our confidence back and we know that we can play with the best. You can tell a lot of guys are playing with more intensity and our motors are running high."

Despite scoring 20 points off turnovers, flustering Manning, the top overall pick in the NFL draft, into a 4-for-18 outing for 27 yards, two interceptions, a fumble and a putrid 0.0 quarterback rating that sent him to the bench, the Ravens kept their perspective.

They know in order to make the playoffs they're going to have to topple far stiffer competition than the hapless Giants (5-8), who lost their sixth game in a row. That guantlet begins next Sunday night against Eli's older brother, Peyton Manning, and the prolific Indianapolis Colts.

"Big brother will be waiting for us," veteran cornerback Corey Fuller said. "You know he's going to have a chip on his shoulder after we messed with his little brother like that."

On a day where the defense restored its confidence after allowing a total of 39 points in the fourth quarter in consecutive losses to the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals, it was a relatively quiet post-game scene.

There was no need for the gut-check that linebacker Ray Lewis suggested after allowing 24 points at the end of last week's epic collapse to the Bengals. Not after holding the Giants' offense scoreless until a Tiki Barber run in garbage time. Not with the defense holding New York to 51 rushing yards for the game, 55 yards of total offense through three quarters, and a mere 1-for-9 on third down.

"A little subdued locker room afte"Obviously, a great effort across the board, phenomenal job by the defense in particular," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.r a win, but there's reason for it because there's more out there for us and they know what that is."

Manning was absolutely victimized by the Ravens' pass rush and confounding defensive schemes. He was 1-for-5 for 12 yards in the first quarter with an interception, as Barber's fumble recovered by Lewis led to a 46-yard Matt Stover field goal.

"The turnovers, repugnant way to play the game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Quarterback Kyle Boller delivered a career-high four touchdown passes, including two acrobatic grabs apiece from tight end Todd Heap and lanky rookie wideout Clarence Moore.

Boller was aided by running back Chester Taylor rushing for 104 yards on 25 carries with Jamal Lewis easing back from a sprained ankle and gaining 32 yards on eight carries before leaving the game and having his ankle re-taped.

"After last week, guys wanted to get that taste out of their mouth and come after these guys as quick as we could and kind of make a statement and go forward," Boller said.

The pain began immediately for the Giants.

First, kickoff returner Derrick Ward fumbled on a hit by linebacker T.J. Slaughter with Ed Hartwell recovering.

Six plays later, Boller hit Moore with a well-thrown fade pass over the head of cornerback William Peterson for a score.

Fumble recoveries became 10 points in the opening six minutes, and the Giants essentially folded from that point onward.

"We played hard-nosed defense," Ray Lewis said. "We played our type of football."

Working with short fields with an average field position of the Baltimore 44, Boller was more accurate than usual and completed 18 of 34 passes for 219 yards. This was his first game with more than two touchdown passes among his first 21 NFL starts.

He found Heap on a short pass, and the Pro Bowl tight end deftly cut between two Giants to reach the end zone for the Ravens' third score.

Boller's only major miscue was a fumble in the second quarter on a blindside hit from linebacker Reggie Torbor that defensive end Osi Umenyiora rambled 50 yards with for the Giants' first score.

The second-year quarterback recovered, though, directing a nice drive that he capped with his second touchdown pass to Moore, an 8-yard lob.

"A little bit of adversity, I think we did a good job of handling it," Boller said.

In building a commanding 27-7 lead by halftime, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed intercepted his NFL-high and team record eighth pass of the season. Reed's lateral to nickel back Deion Sanders added 16 yards to set up Stover's 44-yard field goal with three seconds remaining.

"The exciting thing about him to me is he reminds me so much of Rod Woodson," Lewis said of Reed. "Rod Woodson always trusted his defense, and that's what Ed is doing now. Ed can do this, Ed can do that, but Ed is just playing heads-up football, period."

The Ravens forced four first-half turnovers and limited New York to 39 yards. Baltimore allowed an average of only 3.9 yards per offensive play.

"I'm hoping that was a good warm-up for everybody to get back in the swing of things, to get that chemistry down," Reed said.

In the second half, Baltimore tacked on 10 more points as Stover hit another field goal in the third quarter and Boller found Heap in the corner of the end zone. Heap elevated to secure the football over the head of cornerback Will Allen and showed agility in getting both feet into the end zone on a 1-yard score.

"This is huge for him," Heap said of Boller. "Not only showing all you guys what he can do, but it's huge for his confidence. We needed a game like this to really put us over the edge and let us know what we can do."

The Ravens are aware that after bullying Eli Manning facing off with Peyton Manning in the RCA Dome angling to break Dan Marino's touchdown passes record in a single season (48) will challenge this team in every way.

"It's going to be a different game," Baxter said. "Peyton Manning is well-experienced. I'm sure he'll talk to his brother and ask him exactly what we were doing to him."

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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