They knew how much this one meant to their close friend.
In a measuring-up game, his Bengals (2-4) showed they belong.
"He wanted it," said Chad Johnson, who had five catches for 130 yards. "He wouldn't say so, but he did. I wanted to win for him more than anybody. He wanted it bad."
He got it with a solid plan -- make Boller sweat, then make the Ravens pay.
Jon Kitna threw touchdown passes of 45 and 82 yards -- the latter off a fortuitous deflection -- as the Bengals went ahead 24-7 during Boller's disastrous first half.
After a couple of slop-time touchdowns pulled the Ravens close, the Bengals ran out the clock and their coach got a series of hugs. Marvin Lewis was defensive coordinator on the 2000 Ravens team that won a Super Bowl and is the standard for everything he's done in Cincinnati.
During the week, Lewis conceded that he practically got tears in his eyes as he watched game film of Baltimore's defense.
Abandoning his in-control demeanor, Lewis screamed from the sideline Sunday and went onto the field to exhort his players during timeouts -- a sign of how much this one meant, though he wouldn't admit it.
"I've got a job to do, they've got a job to do," Lewis said, glossing over his feelings. "I love them all, but we're competing against them."
The Ravens made no attempt to hide their disgust with how they played. They had 13 penalties for 113 yards and looked nothing like a first-place team.
Though 3-3, they're still atop the AFC North, the only division without a winning record.
"It's not the end of the world, but it's a wake-up call for us," said safety Ed Reed, whose misplay turned into an 82-yard touchdown pass. "We made a lot of mistakes, and they capitalized on them."
Boller's touchdown pass to Travis Taylor put the Ravens ahead early, but his first fumble changed everything.
Matt Schobel beat linebacker Adalius Thomas down the middle for a 45-yard touchdown catch, the longest by a Bengals tight end in nine years. Boller then fumbled again on a sack at the Ravens' 15, setting up Corey Dillon's 2-yard scoring run less than three minutes later.
Then, the Ravens' defense joined Boller in the self-destruction.
Kitna severely underthrew a long pass to Johnson, who had three defenders around him. Reed perfectly played the ball, but it slipped through his hands and deflected off his right shoulder -- directly to Johnson, who caught it waist-high and kept going for an 82-yard touchdown reception, the Bengals' longest in eight years.
"The bounces have been going to the other teams this year," Kitna said. "Sometimes, it's out of your control. Obviously, today was one of those days, because Reed made an unbelievable play."
Kitna's 21-yard touchdown pass to Peter Warrick on the first play of the fourth quarter put the Bengals up 34-10 and capped one of his best days -- 16-of-21 for 274 yards without an interception or fumble.
Boller later threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Taylor -- cornerback Jeff Burris went for the ball and missed -- and Lewis ran 2 yards for a touchdown that cut it to 34-26 with 1:16 to go. The onside kick deflected off Warrick and went out of bounds, and the Bengals ran out the clock.
Boller completed 15 of 27 for 302 yards -- most of them after the game was out of reach. He also got a mild sprain in his left shoulder when Justin Smith tackled him as he threw a pass away on the final drive, but stayed in.
"One thing I did learn today: It's never over 'til it's over," Boller said. "But you can't put yourself in the kind of situation we put ourselves in."
- Ravens RB Jamal Lewis had 101 yards, his fifth consecutive triple-digit rushing game.
- Taylor had four catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
- It was the Bengals' second victory in 11 games against the Ravens.
- Coming into the game, the Bengals were the only team in the league without a fumble recovery.
- RB Corey Dillon, who missed the Bengals' last game with a strained groin, was slow making cuts and had only 39 yards on 18 carries but did score a touchdown on a 2-yard run.
The Associated Press News Service
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