If last Monday night's game won Kyle Boller respect, last night's impeccable performance might have won him a starting quarterback job for next season.
With touchdowns coming from his strong right arm at an unstoppable rate, Boller carried the Ravens to a 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings before a scattered crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.
Todd Heap for 6 yards, Mark Clayton for 47 yards and Derrick Mason for 39 yards.
An embattled three-year starter who has been fighting for his job, Boller completed 24 of 34 passes for 289 yards, knocking the Vikings (8-7) out of the playoffs and sparking an impressive season-ending run for the Ravens (6-9).
It marked the second straight impressive effort in prime time and the Ravens' first winning streak since November 2004.
"Everything is just clicking," Boller said. "It's one of those things where I can't wait to get back out on the field. I kind of feel like I know that somebody is going to be open every time."
Never leading at any point in the first three quarters, Boller seized control of the home finale early in the fourth quarter.
Converting the last of his three third downs of the drive, Boller heaved a 39-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Mason, putting the Ravens up 24-20 just 13 seconds into the final quarter. Mason got separation with a stutter step to the inside, which cornerback Dovonte Edwards bit on, and ran free down the right sideline.
The Ravens then put the finishing touches with a 38-yard field goal by Matt Stover, extending their margin to 27-20 with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter.
Their fourth straight home victory was secured with a fumble recovery by Adalius Thomas 24 seconds later. The turnover was converted into a 19-yard field goal by Stover, giving the Ravens a 30-20 advantage.
The Ravens now have six passing touchdowns in two games after managing 11 in their first 13 games.
"This is what we envisioned happening at the beginning of the season, where we can split me and Mark out and throw the ball around and hit Todd underneath," said Mason, who had nine catches for 103 yards. "We're now showing that big-play ability that everyone looked for. You have to take your hat off to Kyle."
The Ravens could never have envisioned Boller playing this confidently after he nearly played himself out of a job two weeks ago in Denver, where he committed three critical turnovers.
The first sign of hope came when he produced a 136.8 quarterback rating against the Green Bay Packers last Monday night, but the turning point came last night.
The Ravens couldn't rely on their defense, whose sloppy tackling allowed the Vikings to score on half of their 10 drives. They couldn't rely on their running game, which averaged 2.8 yards a carry.
For the first time this season, Boller bailed out the Ravens, providing a drive that answered every Minnesota score.
"You've got to answer, especially against a team that was going to the playoffs," Boller said. "If they get a lead out there too far, it's harder to come back. That's really big to be able for them to score and for us to match throughout the game."
Boller's reply comes at a time when the Ravens are determining whether he should return as the undisputed starter or if they need to seek a proven veteran. His quarterback rating of 113.5 last night was the second-highest of his career.
It seemed like Boller - and his pass protection - played best when the pressure was the greatest.
Ravens 30, Vikings 23
Game 15: Boller goes back-to-back
Embattled QB tosses three TD passes for second game in row, throws off his critics
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