It was a sight that must have thrilled any St. Louis Rams fan: Steven Jackson bursting through a hole and galloping down the sideline, the entire opposing team in pursuit.
Steven's 58-yard gain in the second quarter was his longest of the day and biggest since 2006. He finished with 104 yards rushing to mark his 17th career 100-yard rushing day, but the Rams couldn't overcome three Washington field goals, falling 9-7 to the Redskins on Sunday in Landover.
Steven on the move on Sunday v. Washington. He finished with 119 yards from scrimmage (courtesy St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
Despite the loss, No. 39's big day and his especially big run, drew the respect of the opposition, as quoted in the Washington Post:
"He's a good running back," said Redskins safety Chris Horton, who S-Jax ran over on his 58-yard jaunt. "He's one of the best in this league. He just pounded me."
After a big first quarter last week in the season opener, Steven struggled to find room to run in the opening frame on Sunday. As the second quarter began, No. 39 was in the red with three carries for -1 yard.
But the monster got out of the cage on the 58-yard scamper with 7:48 to go in the half and could not be leashed. He ran for 68 yards on an 84-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Marc Bulger to Laurent Robinson.
S-Jax would torment the Redskins for 37 more yards on the ground and 15 yards through the air on four catches. He finished the day with a 6.1 yards per carry average.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com saw SJ39's big day as one of his silver linings for St. Louis.
Steven's strong day was a bright spot in a cloudy day for the Rams.
But as Bryan Burwell writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis also failed to deliver the ball to Action Jackson when they needed him the most.
"After the turnover, the defense got Washington to go three-and-out and the Rams got the ball on Washington's 49-yard line. The way Jackson was running with the ball, it seemed like the strategy would be to keep pounding the ball into the gut of the big tailback and let him grind out the yards and eat up the clock."
No. 39 ticked off runs of five on first down and three on second down to set up a convertible third and two. But the Rams baffled Burwell by allowing Bulger to pass on third down:
"With less than 10 minutes to go and looking at a third-and-2 on Washington's 41 — and with Jackson averaging 4.3 yards on his last six carries and 6.1 yards for the game — how hard would it be for him to get 3 measly yards on two plays?"
The Rams then failed to pull Washington offsides on fourth down, burned their final timeout and punted away.
REASON TO BELIEVE
Although Steven and the Rams are now 0-2, they enter next week's home opener against the Green Bay with plenty of reasons for optimism. The biggest of which, the St. Louis Post- Dispatch's Jim Gordon believes, was the way Steven ran over the tough Redskins defense all day:
"As long as Jackson is healthy and running like that, the Rams will win some games."
Tim Klutsarits of Examiner.com agrees:
"Today Jackson was a significant threat for the Rams and he was used how he should be. Jackson ran for 104 yards and had a beautiful 58-yard run. It is the kind of game you expect from a dominant running back and he delivered. If Jackson can continue to have games like this the Rams will have a chance to win some football games this year."
The Rams and Packers take the field in St. Louis next Sunday at noon CST.
Rams come up short in D.C., lose 9-7 (Examiner.com, September 20, 2009)
Postgame with Gordo (STLToday.com, September 20, 2009)
Silver Linings: Rams vs. Redskins (ESPN.com, September 20, 2009)
Rams take Redskins down to the wire, come up short in 7-9 loss (Turf Show Times, September 20, 2009)
Rams show promise in loss to Redskins (Ramblin' Fan, September 20, 2009)
Rams report card @ Washington (STLToday.com, September 20, 2009)
Chris Horton Has Far More Ups Than Downs Against Rams (Washington Post, September 21, 2009)
Rams find more ways to extend frustration (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 21, 2009)
Result that matters eludes Rams again (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 21, 2009)