He was the biggest reason the Ravens converted 10 of 15 third downs, which allowed the Ravens to control the clock for 33 minutes.

"Like the whole team, he responded to the situations," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "When you talk all year long about that's what good teams do - and we have got a ways to go before we can be put in that category - but answering the challenges and the momentum of any given game and that's what we did."

The seesaw scoring began from the game's opening drive.

Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson hit former Ravens receiver Travis Taylor for a 13-yard touchdown pass, and the Ravens responded with a 17-play, 73-yard drive that was capped with a touchdown pass to Heap.

The Ravens' sloppy play on defense resurfaced to cost them before halftime.

Thomas' missed tackle turned a short throw into a 56-yard gain by receiver Troy Williamson, the longest pass play given up by the Ravens this season. Johnson then found Jermaine Wiggins for a 5-yard touchdown pass, putting Minnesota ahead 14-7 with 1:06 remaining in the second quarter.

"We were all just trying to do killer shots," Thomas said of the missed tackles. "I just don't know what it was. I lost my footing a couple of times. I don't know if it was because it rained a little bit and it was a little misty. But we'll go back to the drawing board and straighten it out."

Responding once again, Boller moved the Ravens into field-goal range, going 56 yards in the final 58 seconds of the second quarter. Stover's 37-yard field goal trimmed the deficit to 14-10 heading into halftime.

The Ravens' troubles spilled over into the second half, when Chester Taylor fumbled the opening kickoff at his 26. Minnesota couldn't move the ball and settled for a 36-yard field goal by Paul Edinger, widening the margin to 17-10.

As it had done all game, the Ravens' offense supplied the boost back.

Boller converted a third-and-nine with an 18-yard pass to Taylor, but that was overshadowed by his next third-down pass. With his pass protection picking up the blitz, Boller went over the middle to Clayton, who made an outstretched catch and outran two Vikings defenders.

Clayton's third straight game with a touchdown tied the game for the second time, knotting it at 17.

"It was a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch," Billick said.

On its next possession, Minnesota reclaimed the lead at 20-17 on a 40-yarder by Edinger. The Vikings moved into field-goal range on a 16-yard catch by Travis Taylor, who was able to get to the Ravens' 17 because of a missed tackle by cornerback Samari Rolle.

In the end, the Ravens and Boller always had a timely rebuttal, the key to the Ravens' fourth win in their past six games.

"We continue to fight," said Boller, who has produced consecutive quarterback ratings over 100 for the second time in his career. "There are some teams that come out there and things didn't go their way, they would give up. I'm really proud of our guys to go out there and continue to battle."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com