St. Louis lost by 28 points to the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener Sunday, but running back Steven Jackson is plenty fired up about the fight the Rams showed.
No. 39 saw reason for optimism in the environment around the team and its attitude, as quoted by Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"We lost the game, but it's a lot different around here. I've been around here for six years and this team is intense and I love it, I love it."
According to Burwell, S-Jax was still fired up as he spoke to reporters after the game.
The Seahawks stacked the box against the run, but No. 39 still gained 67 yards, on just 16 carries in Sunday's season opener. But the contributions of The Beast were not enough and the Rams fell to 0-1 with a 28-0 loss to the Seahawks.
The two teams traded turnovers before S-Jax could get a hand on the ball. But on St. Louis' first play from scrimmage, Steven got his first carry of the year. The play was an up the gut run and though the hole closed quickly, No. 39 fought forward for positive yardage on the play.
"I'm going to come out running and running hard," S-Jax said prior to the game, according to Fox's Ron Pitts.
On the first play of the Rams' next drive, S-Jax showed burst, picking up nine yards on a first down pitch to the left side. He gulped up four more yards and a first down on the drive, but an unnecessary roughness penalty doomed the effort.
Penalties bit the Rams and affected No. 39 on St. Louis' next drive as well. On 2nd and 10 from the Seattle 38, Steven took an inside handoff, cut back to the right and burst toward the sideline for a gain of 20. But Donnie Avery was called for holding as a visibly upset S-Jax pounded the football. After the penalty was assessed, Steven's carry was only worth eight yards.
But after the game, No. 39 spoke with pride about how the Rams pushed back when they were pushed, as quoted by the Associated Press:
"Would you rather us just get our tail kicked and walk back (to the huddle)?" Jackson said. "You saw some fight in this team."
When the ball did get into Steven's hands, he made Seattle defenders pay with aggressive and profitable runs. He reeled off another highlight-reel run on the next drive, stiff-arming Seattle cornerback Ken Lucas on a tackle in the backfield, allowing him to cut outside and gain 10 yards and a first down.
No. 39 finished the first quarter with 32 yards rushing on just six carries. Often times the only way Seattle could stop S-Jax was to force the bruising back but they paid the price and took a beating in the process.
The Rams tried to establish a passing attack in the first, which deprived Steven of more than a half dozen carries. Once they fell behind in the second they almost exclusively went to the air.
At Rams blog Turf Show Times, blogger 3k believes that won't work for the Rams, the ball needs to be in Steven's hands more than 16 times.
"Any game where Action Jackson doesn't get 20 carries signals a failure, especially when he fails to tally a single reception."
Steven started the second quarter by picking up a first down while carrying a pile of defenders on third and two in the red zone. But after being stuffed at the line of scrimmage on his next run and didn’t touch the ball again on the drive.
The Rams trailed 14-0 at the break and on the first play of the second half, No. 39 reeled off a 5-yard run to get the Rams going. But St. Louis went back to the air, to no avail, and Steven received only two carries, gaining three yards, for the rest of the third quarter.
S-Jax finally broke free on a delayed handoff on 2nd & 15 from their own seven, shooting up the gut, then cutting back toward the left side and turning the corner quicker than the defenders in his wake for a gain of 22 yards. Again, the Beast had to be forced out of bounds to be stopped.
No. 39 finished with 4.2 yards per carry, marking the 36th time in his career that Steven has averaged more than four yards per carry in a game in which he had 10 carries or more.
JACKSON TAKING ACTION
The Las Vegas Sun had a piece this weekend on Steven's work with the program "Backpacks for Kids"
"In addition to being one of the best running backs in NFL, Steven Jackson of Las Vegas and the St. Louis Rams is a generous soul. Jackson is partnering with Three Square, the Southern Nevada food bank, to help feed hungry school children, donating $2,000 for every touchdown he scores this season to the "Backpacks for Kids” program. If he has a season like last year, it will result in a $16,000 donation, which will buy a lot of Juicy Juice."
But No. 39 is healthy this season and his goals are even higher than last year's eight touchdown total, so he's hoping to bring in even more. But according to an Associated Press report, Steven will be keeping those goals to himself.
"Jackson says he's learned from experience that falling short of his expectations will undoubtedly lead to criticism. Jackson's solution: Keep the numbers to himself and just play the best he can while trying to set an example for a young team."
Commercials began appearing this weekend featuring Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as a spokesperson for Nike's new Pro Combat Apparel.
Commercials will continue throughout the season and Steven will be one of four NFL players featured. Peterson, Steven, Justin Tuck and Brian Urlacher have been chosen by Nike to be the faces of the new brand. According to Ken Dice, Nike's Vice President of North America Marketing, the kickoff of the NFL season was a perfect time to debut the new ads:
"The campaign captures the energy, power and speed of football. We put a spotlight on our new Nike Pro Combat protective gear which can help athletes on all levels become a more dominating force on the field."
For more on the campaign, click here.
Rams' Jackson keeping goals to self (KFVS12, September 11, 2009)
Scoreless in Seattle (Belleville News-Democrat, September 14, 2009)
Spags' Rams show more toughness (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 14, 2009)
Grading the Rams: Week 1 at Seattle (Turf Show Times, September 14, 2009)
The Elevator: Mountain West Double Jeopardy (Las Vegas Sun, September 12, 2009)
Nike Kicks off NFL season with "Prepare for Combat" Campaign (TAXI: Global Creative Network, September 14, 2009)