BALTIMORE — It was a rout waiting to happen. The winless St. Louis Rams and their depleted offense against a defense eager to prove that it’s still the best in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens made the most of their opportunity, bullying backup quarterback Gus Frerotte into six turnovers in Sunday’s 22-3 victory.
Playing for the injured Marc Bulger, Frerotte was forced to operate behind a depleted offensive line and with a receiving corps missing Isaac Bruce and Dante Hall. The harried quarterback threw a career-high five interceptions and lost a fumble, and the Ravens (4-2) cruised to their most lopsided win of the year.
“We knew they was wounded,” Baltimore defensive end Terrell Suggs said. “We smelled blood and we went after it.”
Suggs had one of the Ravens’ four sacks. Baltimore’s team-record five interceptions were by Dwan Edwards, Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, Corey Ivy and Derrick Martin.
“The drive to be the No. 1 defense in the league is what always keeps us moving forward,” McAlister said. “Our whole motto is, if we can get turnovers we can put our team in a better position to win.”
Matt Stover kicked five field goals and Willis McGahee had a 6-yard touchdown run for the Ravens, who built a 13-0 lead at halftime and coasted. It was the first time this season Baltimore won by more than seven points.
Kyle Boller was the Ravens’ starting quarterback in place of the injured Steve McNair, going 17-for-29 for 185 yards. Boller was playing behind an offensive line that started three rookies because of injuries to Jonathan Ogden, Mike Flynn and Adam Terry.
Boller will probably start again next week against Buffalo, Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
It probably doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback if the Baltimore defense plays as it did Sunday. After limiting San Francisco to just one touchdown in an ugly 9-7 win last week, the Ravens topped that by holding the Rams to a field goal.
“They did an unbelievable job today,” Boller said.
Frerotte, who left the game with just over a minute left after being hit on an incomplete pass, said, “It was a long day - It’s a real tough situation right now.”
Baltimore converted the six turnovers into 12 points, and that was more than enough to beat a St. Louis team that has been outscored 159-73 this season. The last time the Rams started 0-6 was in 1962, when the franchise was in Los Angeles.
“It’s pathetic, and anybody that doesn’t feel so, they’re fooling themselves,” said tight end Randy McMichael, who was held to two catches for 29 yards. “We weren’t able to give our defense a hand.”
St. Louis had two turnovers, four first downs and 83 yards of offense during a dreadful first half. Brian Leonard, playing for the injured Steven Jackson, had 11 yards rushing on eight attempts, and Frerotte was sacked three times and threw two interceptions.
“Turnovers were the difference. They’re a great defense and we found out that firsthand,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said.
Frerotte finished 19-for-36 for 208 yards, and Leonard — who topped the 100-yard mark last week against Arizona — totaled 18 yards on 12 carries.
Stover gave the Ravens a 3-0 lead with a 43-yard field goal late in the first quarter. On the Rams’ next possession, Edwards intercepted a pass that bounced off the hands of Drew Bennett, who started for Bruce.
Bennett left with a hamstring injury in the second quarter, further depleting the Rams’ thin receiving crew.
The score was 6-0 before the Ravens moved 75 yards in eight plays for their second touchdown in 12 quarters. After Boller completed a 28-yard pass to Derrick Mason and pass interference was called against the Rams, McGahee took it in for a score.
Ivy’s interception on the second play of the third quarter led to another field goal by Stover. St. Louis got its lone score on the ensuing possession, when a 12-play drive led to a 32-yard field goal by Wilkins.