BALTIMORE (AP) – The crowd had become quiet and restless. Needing a victory over the Cleveland Browns to clinch a playoff berth, the Ravens had blown a 14-point lead and were without injured quarterback Steve McNair.

In the time it took Demetrius Williams to run under Kyle Boller’s long pass and take it into the end zone, everything changed.

Boller threw two touchdown passes, including a 77-yard strike to Williams that snapped a tie and propelled Baltimore to a 27-17 victory Sunday.

Jamal Lewis ran 22 times for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens (11-3), who are assured a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Baltimore will win the AFC North if Cincinnati loses to Indianapolis on Monday night.

Cleveland (4-10) did not go down easily. Former Ravens draft choice Derek Anderson went 23-for-32 for 233 yards, and his touchdown throws to Joe Jurevicius and Braylon Edwards brought the Browns out of a 17-3 hole.

That’s when Boller dropped back and heaved the ball to Williams, who had slipped behind two defenders. The rookie caught the ball in stride at the 20, cut left and completed his journey with a dive into the left corner of the end zone.

Baltimore’s defense made the advantage stand up.

McNair left for good after Baltimore’s second offensive series with a large cut on his right hand. The gash came when Cleveland’s Andra Davis accidentally stepped on McNair’s hand after he threw an incomplete pass.

Boller, who started 34 games for the Ravens from 2003-2005, went 13-for-21 for 238 yards. He threw an interception and lost a fumble, but played well enough to prevent Baltimore coach Brian Billick from thrusting McNair back into action.

With the Ravens nursing a 24-17 lead, Boller completed a 42-yard pass to Mark Clayton to set up the clinching score, a 22-yard field goal by Matt Stover with 2:53 left.

McNair completed 0 of 4 passes.

Baltimore took a 7-3 lead while McNair was receiving x-rays for his injury. Dawan Landry intercepted an overthrown pass by Anderson and returned it 37 yards to the Cleveland 16, setting up a 7-yard touchdown run by Lewis.

After a Cleveland punt, Boller converted three third-down plays during an 11-play, 85-yard drive that put Baltimore up 14-3. Boller went 5-for-6 for 50 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ovie Mughelli, and ran twice for 14 yards.

Baltimore’s next drive, however, ended with an interception by Leigh Bodden – the first against the Ravens in five games. Boller fumbled a snap on the next possession and Cleveland recovered on the Baltimore 26, but Phil Dawson missed a 47-yard field goal.

The Ravens then moved 42 yards before Stover kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 17-3.

Anderson responded by going 6-for-6 during a 70-yard drive culminated with his 3-yard touchdown pass to Jurevicius.

The Browns held the ball for more than 11 minutes in the third quarter, but Boller found enough time to deliver the pivotal pass to Williams.

AP-ES-12-17-06 1620EST


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