Without McNair and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe), the Ravens offense followed the lead of Boller.

Criticized for his inconsistency during his three-year run as starter, Boller showed composure, hitting 23 of 35 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

"I have a real understanding of the offense," Boller said. "It should be this way in my fifth year. I would expect it to be that way. But I still have a lot of work to do."

On the Ravens' third series, Boller completed all six of his passes, accounting for 53 of the 65 yards on the drive and showing control throughout. Capping the 11-play drive with a touchdown, he rolled out to his right, waited for Jets linebacker Bryan Thomas to rush and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Willis McGahee.

"I can do whatever they want me to do when my number's called," said McGahee, who rushed 26 times for 97 yards in addition to scoring his first career receiving touchdown. "I was like, whatever you do Willis, do not drop this ball. You will not get another chance like this."

Both teams traded field goals in the second quarter - Boller was nearly intercepted on the Ravens' field-goal drive - before the Ravens caught a break just before halftime.

Boller's 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap was initially ruled incomplete until the officials reviewed the film. The replay showed that Heap dragged his right foot inbounds on the left side of the end zone, giving the Ravens a 17-3 lead with six seconds left in the second quarter.

It was a rewarding reversal for Heap, who had a game-tying touchdown negated six days ago in Cincinnati when officials called a questionable pass interference penalty on him.

"They tried to take that one away from me," Heap said with a laugh. "It was close. I tried to get my feet in as best I could."

Although that lead barely held up, the Ravens showed they could win without being at full strength.

The Ravens entered the game with eight players listed as questionable and lost defensive lineman Trevor Pryce in the third quarter with a broken wrist.

"[This effort] says we're a pretty resilient team," Heap said. "Everybody was asking last week, 'What are you going to do?' The next guy steps up. You're not going to throw in the towel and give up. To win a ballgame in that fashion can only help us out in the long run."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com