The job is Boller's

Despite concussion, veteran gets starting nod over rookie

The quarterback decision

December 18, 2007|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Looking to end the NFL's longest current winning streak, the Ravens will continue to start Kyle Boller at quarterback over Troy Smith, coach Brian Billick said yesterday.

The Ravens (4-10) have lost a franchise-record eight straight games and could tie the team record for defeats in a season if they lose their final two games (at the Seattle Seahawks and home against the Pittsburgh Steelers).

Determined to keep the team's focus on winning, Billick remains committed to Boller despite the former first-round pick suffering a mild concussion Sunday.

"In my opinion, Kyle clearly gives us the best chance to win the game," Billick said.

In the 22-16 overtime loss to Miami, Boller completed 10 of 19 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. With Boller, the Ravens converted seven of 13 third downs (54 percent).

But he was knocked out of the game by a forceful hit from defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday in the fourth quarter.

In his second NFL appearance, Smith led a game-tying, 59-yard drive in the final seconds of regulation and helped the Ravens get in position for a potential game-winning field goal in overtime (albeit with just one pass, a 4-yarder, in OT).

Billick, though, isn't tempted to start the Heisman Trophy winner.

"Kyle played very well and deserves the opportunity to continue to grow and get what he might out of these last two games," Billick said.

Boller complained of blurred vision after the hit and still had a headache yesterday. Billick stressed that he wouldn't start Boller if the quarterback has any lingering effects.

"We think everything will be cleared up [for tomorrow's practice]," Billick said.

Meanwhile, linebacker Ray Lewis is expected to play after leaving in the third quarter with a dislocated finger on his left hand. Instead of sitting out the final two weeks, Lewis likely will play with a splint.

Said Billick: "We're going to continue to take the tack that we're going to go out and win every week."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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