LANDOVER - The Ravens' best offense came with theirs on the sideline last night.

Manufacturing points off big plays from their defense and special teams, the Ravens used a smoke-and-mirrors act to rally past the Washington Redskins, 17-10, before a national television audience and a boisterous crowd of 90,287 at FedEx Field.

With the Ravens' offense in a self-destructive funk, Ed Reed caused a fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and B.J. Sams ran back a punt 78 yards for another score. The third quarter was as pivotal as it was peculiar, as those big plays wiped away a 10-0 deficit during a 7 1/2 -minute span in which the Ravens didn't run an offensive play.

"It just shows as a whole we know how to handle adversity, to keep focus and keep it going," said running back Jamal Lewis, who will now serve a two-game suspension for pleading guilty to using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.

Those two touchdowns were all that were needed for the Ravens' defense, which was determined to erase a disheartening performance last week on Monday Night Football.

The defense clamped down of running back Clinton Portis and harassed quarterback Mark Brunell to produce one of the Ravens' most dominating efforts ever. The 107 yards of total offense given up was the second-stingiest defensive performance in franchise history.

"We never doubted ourselves," Reed said. "We wanted to keep fighting and keep fighting hard. This is the Battle of the Beltways. This was for all the bragging rights. We don't play each other until 2008, so this will soak in for a while."

The Ravens' first win over their state rival since 1997 raised their record to 3-2 and kept them within one game of the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) heading into the bye week. Washington's fourth straight loss dropped the Redskins to 1-4 and marked the longest losing streak under coach Joe Gibbs since his rookie season in 1981.

The Ravens were able to pull off the comeback despite a disastrous effort from their offense. Second-year quarterback Kyle Boller, who hadn't been intercepted in 67 straight passes, was picked off on three straight possessions and over a span of eight throws.

Each one of his career-high three interceptions set up the Redskins in Ravens territory, but the Ravens' defense held them to 10 points.

Asked about Boller, coach Brian Billick said, "There were some breakdowns, some bad throws, some bad routes and some things popped up in the air. You know what? Right now I really don't care."

With Boller helping the Redskins more than the Ravens, the defense took it upon itself to generate the points to overcome a 10-0 hole in the third quarter.

On Washington's second drive of the second half, Reed crashed both hands on Brunell's cocked arm to force the fumble. The Pro Bowl safety picked up the loose ball and ran it 22 yards for his fifth career touchdown in 37 career games, cutting the deficit to 10-7.

"You've seen Ed do that so many times," Billick said. "That's what makes him special."

After the defense forced another three-and-out, the Ravens jumped ahead with trickery on special teams.

Sams fielded the punt and faked a reverse to Deion Sanders, leaving a wide-open right side to run. The undrafted rookie had to keep his balance after being pushed around the Washington 35-yard line, tiptoeing along the sideline before finishing off his 78-yard return.

Sams' second touchdown in as many weeks gave the Ravens their first lead at 14-10.

"As long as I have 10 people that have tremendous confidence in me and block for me, I can bring it to the house every time," Sams said.

After the Ravens took a 14-10 lead, they went exclusively to running the ball, staying on the ground for 23 of the final 25 plays. The Ravens grinded out 131 of their 232 yards of total offense in their final three clock-eating drives.