It was the oft-criticized Boller -- a first-round pick widely dismissed as a
bust and labeled as way too hyperactive, inaccurate and erratic to return as the
starter next season -- who was sharp, accurate and productive with three
touchdown passes on Monday Night Football. This marked the most points scored by
the Ravens in franchise history.
Favre, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, was ultimately benched and replaced by rookie Aaron Rodgers.
Instead of unraveling again in this high-profile setting, Boller shredded the top-ranked pass defense in the league to lead Baltimore (5-9) to a 48-3 blowout over the Packers (3-11) before an announced crowd of 70,604 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Boller completed 14 of his first 18 throws, including all six in the first quarter, for 168 yards and a 142.6 passer rating by halftime. He finished the game 19 of 27 for 253 yards and a 136.8 passer rating as Baltimore improved to 5-2 at home.
And Favre, the Packers legend who has been the subject of rampant speculation that he might retire after this disappointing season, was wild, shaky in his decisions and prone to turnovers. Among his many errant, reckless throws, two were intercepted by cornerbacks Deion Sanders and Samari Rolle in the first half.
Safety Ed Reed should have intercepted at least three Favre passes, including one that ricocheted off his facemask in the end zone. The Ravens' secondary should have intercepted at least six misfired Favre passes if not for their suspect hands and timing.
Favre finished the game 14 of 29 for 144 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 34.3 passer rating. This marked his third consecutive game without a touchdown pass in the longest streak of his storied career.
The surprising contrast between Boller and Favre spelled the difference in an otherwise uninviting prime-time matchup.
Boller, who entered the game with a 63.0 passer rating that gave him the dubious billing as the second-lowest ranked quarterback in the NFL ahead of Chicago Bears rookie Kyle Orton, consistently made sound decisions and crisp throws.
The Southern California native demonstrated none of the ineptitude he displayed in last week's 12-10 loss to the Denver Broncos where he threw two interceptions in the red zone and managed to fumble in the open field without being touched.
Boller's favorite target was tight end Todd Heap, who tied his career-highs with nine receptions for two touchdowns and a game-high 110 yards.
Plus, Heap became the Ravens' all-time leader in receiving yardage with 2,841 yards, eclipsing the mark previously held by retired receiver Qadry Ismail. Heap broke the record on a 27-yard touchdown pass on a fade route behind safety Mark Roman to stake Baltimore to a 31-3 third-quarter lead.
Baltimore immediately grabbed the momentum in the first quarter on an electrifying B.J. Sams punt return.
The diminutive return specialist caught the football at the 33, bounced off a hard hit by Marviel Underwood and accelerated as he reversed field. His 49-yard punt return gave Baltimore the football at the Packers' 18.
Disgruntled running back Jamal Lewis showed no ill effects from a thumb injury that sidelined him against the Broncos.
Lewis, who has constantly complained about a lack of carries and his uncertain contract situation, ran extremely hard and rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries by the third quarter.
It was only his second 100-yard game of the season two seasons removed from a 2,066-yard campaign that earned him NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Lewis' 14 yards on his first two carries gave Baltimore a first-and-goal at the 4.
However, a typical miscue occurred: a holding penalty in the red zone with offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo flagged for the infraction.
This time, though, the Ravens bounced back from the penalty as Boller scrambled around the right side for 9 yards on a nice block from Lewis. Two plays later, Boller lobbed it high in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass to Heap for a 7-0 lead.
The Ravens were far from done.
Following a 17-yard Lewis run and a 22-yard pass to Derrick Mason with 15 more yards tacked on for cornerback Al Harris' face mask penalty, the Ravens finally executed a successful trick play.
Rookie wide receiver Mark Clayton took a direct snap from center Mike Flynn and scampered around the right side for an 11-yard touchdown run. Lewis crashed into safety Nick Collins, decking him to clear the way for Clayton.
Green Bay eventually got on the scoreboard with 5:26 left in the first quarter on a 27-yard Ryan Longwell field goal. That score was set up by a 57-yard kickoff return by cornerback Ahmad Carroll with 15 more penalty yards added to the equation when kicker Matt Stover was flagged for a rare personal foul for a low block in an unsuccessful attempt to slow down Carroll.
In the Ravens' top scoring drive of the game and perhaps the season, they marched 96 yards on 16 plays with 8 minutes and 26 seconds ticking off the clock in the second quarter. Boller capped the drive with an alley-oop touchdown snared with one hand by acrobatic wide receiver Randy Hymes.
Boller converted three first downs on the drive, completing 5 of 7 passes for 65 yards.
Boller went 4 for 4 for 51 yards on his opening drive of the second half that culminated in his second touchdown pass to Heap.
Stover booted a 40-yard field goal, his second of the game with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lewis added a 3-yard touchdown run.
In a rude welcome to the NFL for Rodgers (like Boller a first-round draft pick from California-Berkeley), he was intercepted in the end zone in the fourth quarter by safety Chad Williams. Later, Williams forced Rodgers to fumble with linebacker Adalius Thomas rambling 35 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring.
As for Boller, he will always be able to recount how on one strange night in Baltimore he outshined Brett Favre.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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