Steven entered Sunday’s game against Atlanta with two goals in mind: to get a win, and to reach 1,000 yard rushing mark

While St. Louis fell short, losing 31-27 to the playoff-bound Atlanta Falcons,  No. 39 got his 1,000 yards — and then some.

SJax picked up 161 yards and two TDs in his final 2008-09 game (AP).

Even in the loss, Steven’s performance was truly special. He needed a superb outing — 120 rush yards — to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the season.

Instead, SJ turned out a performance that was nothing short of spectacular, gaining 161 yards on the ground in 30 carries and tacking on an additional 54 yards on four catches.

Steven finished the year with a 1,060 rush yards and 379 through the air, impressive numbers especially when you consider he amassed those totals despite missing four games due to injury, and played hurt in at least two others.

By reaching the 1,000-yard milestone, SJ became the first Rams’ back to rush for 1,000 yards for four consecutive seasons since Eric Dickerson, one of his childhood idols, did it from 1983-86.

“It means a lot. I look up to Eric Dickerson … I look up to a lot of backs that have been a part of this franchise,” said Jackson, a fifth-year pro. “It’s been a rough couple of seasons for me, just being banged up. Still being able to reach 1,000 yards in 12 games, I think there’s something I can take from it.”

No. 39 wasn’t alone in his elation; his teammates and coaches were proud to be a part of it, too.

“Ever since I came in, my personal goal was obviously to play well, but also to get (Jackson) what he deserves,” center Brett Romberg said. “He’s a hell of a running back in this league, definitely the best that I’ve played with in the NFL. His opportunities are endless.”

“[It] was something we wanted to do for him,” guard Adam Goldberg said of No. 39’s 1,000-yard season. “Steven is a real special player, and it’s our honor to block for him.”

St. Louis coach Jim Haslett added his voice to the chorus of praise.

“He was playing his butt off,” Rams coach Jim Haslett said of Jackson. “I think that’s a guy you can build a great football team around.”

Rams’ quarterback Marc Bulger, one of SJ’s close friends, was also genuinely happy for Steven and his accolade.

“Steven played at a Pro Bowl level,” Bulger said. “When he’s going the way Steven can go, he changes the whole dynamic of the game. It gives me some excitement about next year and what he can do when he’s healthy.”

While No. 39 enjoys his personal accomplishments, he gets far greater pleasure out of team successes, he said.

“We’re talking about individual things right now, and that’s all great,” said Steven. “But at the end of the day, I want to be in the playoffs and I want to be in the Super Bowl, and hopefully win one.”

Hopefully, by the time training camp rolls around in 2009, the Rams’ roster will feature a full-time fullback, something it has lacked since former coach Scott Linehan cut Madison Hedgecock in 2007.

“I think if you have a running back like Steven with his stature and speed, and you’re going to pay him that type of money, that’s the guy you have to build your offense around,” Haslett said. “You have to match him up front with offensive linemen and you have to have receivers who are going to block and tight ends who are going to block, because that’s the guy who you are going to hang your hat on.”

While the Rams’ failure to reach the postseason is disappointing for Steven and Co., it will give No. 39 the opportunity to get rejuvenated physically and ready to rock for next year.

“It’s been a long season, from the (training-camp) holdout to the injuries to the 10-game losing streak,” he said. “I’m going to get away from the game for a while, but I’m hungry to get back to playing good football personally and as a team.”

Rams’ Steven Jackson finishes with 1,000-yard season (STLtoday, Dec. 29, 2008)
Jackson is pleased with 161-yard day (Belleville News-Democrat, Dec. 29, 2008)
Jackson hopes Rams will add a fullback (Belleville News-Democrat, Dec. 27, 2008)