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Ravens finish off Vikings

BALTIMORE -- The Minnesota Vikings' flickering playoff hopes were snuffed out last night by a barrage of precision passes from a suddenly effective Kyle Boller.

Boller went 24 for 34 for 289 yards and three touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens eliminated the Vikings from the postseason hunt with a 30-23 victory.

Needing a victory to stay alive, the Vikings (8-7) came up with their worst defensive performance in two months. Minnesota, which hadn't given up more than 23 points since Oct. 30, allowed the Ravens to go 10 for 15 on third down. The Vikings loss gave the New York Giants (10-5) a playoff berth.

Baltimore (6-9) trailed, 20-17, before Boller threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason with 14:47 left. Then, after Minnesota punted from the Ravens 38, Boller directed a 68-yard drive that produced a 38-yard field goal by Matt Stover with 1:55 to go.

Any chance the Vikings had of winning their fourth straight road game vanished when quarterback Brad Johnson fumbled on a sack by Adalius Thomas. Baltimore turned it into a field goal with 1:03 remaining, and the Ravens followed Paul Edinger's 46-yard field goal by recovering the ensuing onside kick.

Boller backed up a breakthrough three-touchdown effort Monday night against Green Bay. The third-year quarterback still hasn't assured himself the starting job in 2006, but he has at least provided the Ravens a reason to consider the possibility.

Mason had nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.

He has 83 receptions this season, breaking the team record of 76 by Michael Jackson in 1996.

Johnson was 25 for 36 for 248 yards and two scores.

The announced crowd was 70,246, but several thousand fans decided to spend Christmas night at home rather than watch the Ravens conclude their home schedule.

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