Frerotte threw three touchdown passes in the first half, then sweated out two second-half interceptions in a 28-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the Rams’ first home win this season after five setbacks.
“I was proud of the way he came out and competed and really gave us a spark,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He really only had two bad throws in the second half, which were critical errors, but as a team we overcame them.”
Frerotte, who fumbled a routine snap on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the final minute of a 5-point loss to the Seahawks last week at home, needed a defensive stop after Chris Crocker’s interception and 16-yard return to the Rams 33 with 5:33 left gave the Falcons a shot at the lead.
Chris Redman threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after replacing an ineffective Joey Harrington for the Falcons (3-9), who cut the gap to 21-16 midway through. Atlanta stalled at the 9 with 2:14 to go when Tye Hill broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Joe Horn.
Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted an overthrown ball and returned it 27 yards to midfield with 1:31 left to stop the Falcons again, and Steven Jackson scored on a 50-yard run two plays later to clinch it.
“It felt really good when Steven broke that one out there at the end,” Frerotte said. “You should win most of your games at home and we haven’t had that luxury this year.”
Redman, who threw only one pass all season before Sunday, was 16-of-24 for 172 yards with two touchdown and one interception.
“He was very accurate and hitting hands and taking what the defense was giving him,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “We were able to score quickly and got into a position to win it.”
Randy McMichael, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce caught first-half touchdown passes to give the Rams (3-9) a 21-0 lead. Holt had six catches for 135 yards for St. Louis, which avoided a second straight second-half collapse after squandering a 19-7 lead in a 24-19 loss to the Seahawks last week.
“We run the same plays,” Frerotte said. “It’s just a miscue here, a miscue there.”
Roddy White caught 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons, who took no solace in their strong second half and have lost three in a row.
“I guess you can find a silver lining in anything,” linebacker Keith Brooking said. “But we lost and we didn’t make the plays we need to make, period.”
Attendance was announced at 62,051 at the Edward Jones Dome, although the building appeared to be about two-thirds full. Jackson suggested the Rams enliven the atmosphere with a spruced-up music set and got his wish with more modern rock and hip hop.
“At least the crowd was responding,” Jackson said. “We had fans dancing on the Jumbotron, so we’re making headway.”
The Rams’ dismal 0-5 start saddled the franchise, among the NFL elite earlier this decade, with its third home TV blackout this season after only one the first 12 seasons in St. Louis.
The Rams are 8-14 at home the last three seasons after going 39-9 from 1999-2004.
The Falcons’ only scoring in the first three quarters came on a 41-yard field goal by Morten Andersen in the third quarter that ended a five-quarter scoreless slump.
Frerotte got his third start of the year in place of Marc Bulger, sidelined by a concussion in the first quarter of last week’s loss to the Seahawks.
On the Rams’ first two possessions Sunday, Frerotte was 9-of-10 for 147 yards and touchdown passes. The drives of 75 and 95 yards were capped by McMichael’s 1-yard grab and Holt’s 31-yarder. Bruce’s 8-yard catch for his 83rd career touchdown made it 21-0 with 1:55 left in the half.
Michael Jenkins’ 5-yard catch cut the deficit to 21-16 with 7:17 to go.
“It feels good to be able to get back out there,” Redman said. “It’s been a long time since I was in a game atmosphere. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.”
Petrino wouldn’t commit to a starter for a Monday night game against the Saints at home on Dec. 10. Byron Leftwich was the emergency third quarterback on Sunday after recovering from a tailbone injury.
The Falcons had a 77-yard punt return by Adam Jennings negated by a block in the back in the third quarter. Jennings also was flagged for taunting inside the Rams 10 when he waved to his pursuers.
Bruce caught four passes for 31 yards to give him 14,911, passing Cris Carter for fifth place on the career list. … The Rams have been outscored 192-66 in the second half, including 111-37 in the fourth quarter. They have an edge of 130-105 in the first half. … Horn, who missed three games with a strained hamstring, caught four passes for 38 yards.