Though they haven't turned the corner yet, it's obvious Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams are one break away.
Steven piled up 163 all-purpose yards, including a season-high 117 on 27 carries, but the Rams could not complete a thrilling comeback on Sunday, falling at home 36-17 to the Green Bay Packers.
Steven turning upfield for some of his 117 yards rushing (St. Louis Rams).
Despite another loss, the Rams were able to give Green Bay, a team that many experts have projected to play for the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl in February, a fight to the end.
"As long as we stayed within one touchdown away, I felt we had a good chance of winning the game," S-Jax told reporters after the game, as quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They rallied back when we were within striking distance."
The Rams fell behind Green Bay 16-0 in the second quarter, but on Steven's legs and the arm of backup quarterback Kyle Boller, St. Louis posted two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the first half to trail by nine, 23-14, at the break.
No. 39 rushed for 48 yards in the first half, and snared two catches for 14 yards.
When they came back out for the second half, the Rams went back to the well with Action Jackson. Steven recorded five consecutive touches on the first drive of the second half, gaining 36 yards on four runs and one catch. But the drive stalled and the Rams had to settle for a field goal to cut the Green Bay lead to six, at 23-17.
After another stop by the St. Louis defense, the offense got the ball back primed to take the lead. S-Jax took his first carry of the drive 20 yards around the left end before being pushed out of bounds in Green Bay territory. But the Rams failed to move the ball any further and had to punt.
No. 39 tallied 74 total yards in the third quarter, but the Rams could never punch it in, settling for only a field goal in the quarter.
Green Bay scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
"I thought we battled with Green Bay tooth and nail down to the end," said Steven Jackson. "But turnovers are killing us."
The Rams turned the ball over to Green Bay three times on Sunday.
ELECTING TO RECEIVE
Not only was Steven, as would be expected, the Rams' leading rusher, but S-Jax also led the team in receiving yards with 46 yards on five catches.
No. 39 caught one pass from Marc Bulger in the first quarter and four more throughout the game from Boller after Bulger left due to a shoulder injury.
After the game, Steven told reporters that he was impressed with the way Boller handled himself coming off the bench, as quoted in the Belleville News-Democrat:
"He made some plays happen when there was nothing there, and he kind of rallied the troops when we needed it," Rams running back Steven Jackson said.
Boller even did work when the ball was in No. 39's hands, laying out a block to open a bigger hole for S-Jax on one of his carries.
"I just saw a blue jersey flash in front of me and make the block," Jackson said. "I didn't realize it was him until after he was down. It says a lot about how fiery he is and how he wants to compete. He wants to go the extra mile to try to spring a guy through for a touchdown."
At St. Louis blog Rams Herd, Steven's Sunday best was the top positive to come out of the loss to the Packers.
"Steven Jackson is getting on track. He was a factor in the running game as well as the passing game, and got 32 touches on offense. Of those 32, 20 went for 3 yards or more — and often much more. He was a playmaker on an offense that badly needs one, even with the defense stacked against him."
ESPN.com's Mike Sando also saw Action Jackson's day as reason for hope within the Rams organization.
A big game on Sunday put S-Jax back in the company of the NFL's elite backs.
Steven now ranks fifth in the NFL with 288 yards rushing this season through three games. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 96 yards per game.
No. 39 has also rushed for 13 first downs this season, tied for third most in the league. His 117-yard day was his second straight 100+ yard rushing game and he has now rushed for 100 or more yards in four of his last five games, dating back to the final two games of the 2008 season. Sunday was also the 18th such game of Steven's career.
In his Rams Report Card, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bill Coats awarded S-Jax with the highest grade of any Rams player on the day:
"With 32 touches, Steven Jackson was just one shy of his total for the first two games. Jackson pounded out 117 yards on 27 rushes and added 46 yards on five receptions. Jackson also was solid in pass protection."
Yes, Rams are bad, but not hopeless (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 28, 2009)
Rams let Packers pull away late (Belleville News-Democrat, September 28, 2009)
Rams are the new Lions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 28, 2009)
Rams Report Cards vs. Packers (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 28, 2009)
Rams Lose Home Opener to Packers 36-17 (Rams Gab, September 27, 2009)
Rams-Packers: Two steps forward, three steps back (Rams Herd, September 27, 2009)
Silver linings: Rams vs. Packers (ESPN.com, September 27, 2009)