Then he went out and made it happen.
Showing the poise and leadership of a rapidly maturing quarterback, Boller threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter, and the Ravens rolled to a 30-10 victory Sunday.
“We kind of got stalled in the first half, but that’s the beauty of a four-quarter game,” said Boller, who fashioned the comeback without injured running back Jamal Lewis. “I just rallied the guys and told them we still got two quarters, so let’s go out and score 21 points.”
With help from Baltimore’s opportunistic defense, the Ravens (7-3) used a 30-point second half to pull away to their third straight win. After being criticized earlier in the season for his erratic play, Boller went 23-for-34 for 232 yards in his third straight game without an interception.
Another young quarterback also played a part in the game, Dallas rookie Drew Henson. Subbing for an injured Vinny Testaverde in the fourth quarter, Henson’s first NFL play over center resulted in a fumble that Baltimore converted into a touchdown.
“It felt good to see him go in,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, “but I liked to choke when I saw him on the first play. Those are the kinds of things you don’t want to happen.”
Henson rebounded to lead the Cowboys (3-7) on a touchdown drive in the waning minutes and finished 6-for-6 for 47 yards, including a 1-yard TD pass to Jeff Robinson with 40 seconds left. But Parcells would not speculate who would start Thursday against the Chicago Bears, saying he wanted to see the severity of Testaverde’s injured right shoulder before making a decision.
Henson would love the chance.
“We’ll see how Vinny feels, if he can come back. If not I’ll be prepared,” he said. “As bad as today was, I was able to take something away and have something to build towards Thursday if need be.”
Lewis, the defending NFL rushing champion, left in the first quarter with an ankle injury after gaining 5 yards on two carries. Lewis roamed the sideline in uniform during the second half, but the Ravens evidently didn’t want to risk further injury to his tender left ankle.
He wasn’t needed, because Boller and the Baltimore defense were too much for Dallas.
Burned for 49 points on Monday night in a lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys played well for a half. But things unraveled during a third quarter in which the Ravens compiled a 163-11 advantage in offensive yardage.
Trailing 3-0, Baltimore finally scored on its second drive of the third quarter. Boller went 6-for-7 on a 78-yard drive that included three passes to tight end Darnell Dinkins—two for first downs and a 17-yard touchdown.
They were Dinkins’ first three catches of the season. He was activated off the practice squad in late October to help cover for the absence of the injured Todd Heap.
A 50-yard field goal by Matt Stover made it 17-3, and Chad Williams sealed the victory with a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown with 10:42 left. It was the fourth time this season the Ravens returned an interception for a score.
Testaverde went 9-for-22 for 109 yards and two interceptions.
“I thought I was throwing but they called it a fumble. It happened real fast,” Henson said. “You move on and keep going.”
Dallas forced only five turnovers in its first nine games, but recovered two fumbles during a first half that featured six punts and only one score, a first-quarter field goal by Billy Cundiff.
The Ravens then lost backup running back Musa Smith, who broke his right leg while being tackled by Roy Williams on a 12-yard run late in the first quarter. It turned out to Baltimore’s longest run of the day. ^Notes: Robinson has two receptions this year—both 1-yard TDs. … Travis Taylor became the Ravens’ career leader in receptions. He has 196, surpassing Qadry Ismail (191).