Monday, October 8, 2007

Frerotte's start filled with lows and highs

As he watched Arizona cornerback Roderick Hood streak toward the end zone with
a football that only seconds earlier had been in his hands, Rams quarterback
Gus Frerotte had one desperate thought.

"I just hoped that somebody could catch him," he said. But he knew better.

After stepping in front of tight end Randy McMichael and intercepting
Frerotte's pass early in the fourth quarter, Hood had clear sailing. His
68-yard touchdown — on his second interception — put the momentum firmly in
Arizona's camp, and the Cardinals went on to a 34-31 victory Sunday that
dropped the Rams to 0-5.

Frerotte, who started for banged-up Marc Bulger, was furious with himself for
that throw. "That was a back-breaker," he said. "I was getting some pressure
and I was just trying to get it out of my hand and not take a sack. ... I'm
smarter than that, I've played long enough that I can't make a throw like that
that basically gives them the game."

Making his first start in two years — the 80th of his 14-year NFL career —
Frerotte, 36, had a full day replete with devastating lows and exhilarating

On the negative side, he was intercepted three times — all in the second half —
and those errors cost the Rams 14 points: Hood's score, and another TD later
after a pick by safety Adrian Wilson that give Arizona possession on the Rams'
39-yard line.

"Right now, where we are offensively, we have to be really ball-secure,"
Frerotte said. "Every game we've lost, we've had turnovers on offense, and
those are going to kill you every time."

On the plus side, Frerotte passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns —
exceeding by one the offense's total production in the first four outings. The
Rams piled up 375 total yards; their average had been 262.5. yards.

"We played hard, we put points on the board, we moved the ball even with guys
being out" with injuries, Frerotte noted. "I think there are going to be a lot
of good things to watch on the film."

Rookie running back Brian Leonard should like what he sees. Subbing a second
consecutive week for Steven Jackson (groin), Leonard carried 18 times for 102
yards and caught five passes for 33 yards.

"I think the O-linemen and me, we did a good job," Leonard said. "Our goal is
to rush over 4 yards per carry and over 100 yards. And we did it, so we
accomplished our running game."

The passing game ran smoothly, too — with some glaring exceptions. "Gus did a
great job," center Brett Romberg said. "No mix-ups, no funky audibles, nothing."

Frerotte's first scoring pass, a 16-yard strike to wide receiver Drew Bennett
on the first play of the second quarter, ended the Rams' streak of possessions
without a touchdown at 32. "That was exciting," Romberg said. "I think all 11
of us were in the end zone congratulating Bennett."

Later, Frerotte hooked up with wideout Torry Holt for an 11-yard score and
found McMichael with a 24-yard toss with 13 seconds remaining. Frerotte hit
Holt for a 2-point conversion, but the Cardinals recovered the ensuing onside

"We were in a great groove," McMichael said. "We moved the ball up and down the
field, made some big plays, and were aggressive in the red zone. That's why we

The glitch in the attack came with the Rams leading 20-17 midway through the
third quarter. It started with Hood's first interception. In the Rams'
subsequent five possessions, Frerotte misfired on seven of 10 passes, including
his two other interceptions. With 3:11 to go, the Cardinals had surged to a
34-23 edge, rendering the Rams' late rally moot.

"Regardless of what we did offensively, we still lost," Frerotte said. "And
that's the bottom line."

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