For the fourth consecutive week, Steven Jackson pounded the opposition with his trademark intensity, yet the story remained the same for No. 39 and the St. Louis Rams.
Steven ran himself ragged against a punishing San Francisco 49ers defense, rushing for 79 yards on 23 carries, but the Rams couldn't turn the effort into points in a 35-0 loss in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the Rams' struggles, S-Jax has the third most rushing yards in the NFL (Getty Images).
After the game, S-Jax struggled to find the words that described his feelings, as quoted by Mike Sando of ESPN.com:
"At this point, I don't really know what you can say," running back Steven Jackson said. "You try to get your thoughts together and maybe on Monday talk to the young guys."
The highly ranked 49ers defense stifled Steven short of 100 yards rushing for the first time since Week 1. But that didn't stop S-Jax from running with purpose until the very end. As he told Sando, he was running angry.
"Not to say that I was holding anything back," Jackson said, "but you got to understand that when you are down like we were, you don't give up."
With 85 total yards, No. 39 still accounted for nearly half of St. Louis' total offense of 177 yards. The Rams passing game accounted for only 108 yards, allowing the 49ers to load the box against S-Jax. Steven gave San Francisco credit for a good game plan, as quoted by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Really tough going," Jackson said. "The 49ers did a really good job of containing the run, stopping the run, and making it really hard on us to get anything going. There was definitely a lot of guys in the box. Patrick Willis made plays like we expected him to make plays. It's no surprise. Every team's going to (stack the box) until we find a way to put points on the board. So we've just got to fight it."
CLIMBING THE BOARD
Steven's 79 yards pushed him into a tie for 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards with Bengals running back Cedric Benson. Both players have 367 yards through four games.
No. 39 is also just two yards behind Miami's Ronnie Brown (369) for 2nd in the NFL in rushing.
According to Thomas, S-Jax is on pace to rush for 1,468 yards, the second-highest total of his career.
No. 39's fight and class were noted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando as one of St. Louis's few silver linings from Sunday's loss.
"Steven Jackson remained on pace for nearly 1,500 yards rushing. More importantly, he set the right example for a struggling team by running hard from start to finish and saying the right things afterward."
Jim Thomas at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also gave Steven credit for running "as hard as humanly possible" on Sunday.
Steven routinely broke tackles or made the first man miss altogether on Sunday. But with eight and sometimes nine men to go through, The Beast could never totally break free.
Thomas' St. Louis Post-Dispatch colleague Bernie Miklasz points out that No. 39 leads the NFL in yards after contact this season while noting that SJ39 is the last person that should be drawing the ire of the St. Louis faithful.
S-Jax also got high marks from Post-Dispatch Rams reporter Bill Coats on his Rams Report Card.
CONTINUING TO FIGHT
The Rams return home next Sunday to face the Minnesota Vikings. Above all else, S-Jax wants to see his teammates keep their composure and never give up, as quoted by Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"We are professional football players and we are expected to execute," he said. "We are going to lose battles out there, but within those battles you cannot lose yourself in the game. We have to continue to fight no matter what the scoreboard says."
Kickoff from the Edward James Dome in St. Louis is scheduled for Sunday at noon.
No sympathy from 49ers for rebuilding Rams (ESPN.com, October 4, 2009)
Silver-linings Rams at 49ers (ESPN.com, September 5, 2009)
Rams Report Card (STLToday.com, October 4, 2009)
Rams are having difficulty scoring (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 5, 2009)
St. Louis Rams fall to San Francisco 49ers (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 5, 2009)
Could Rams be worst ever? (STLToday.com, October 4, 2009)
Mr. Illegal Formation symbolizes the Rams (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 5, 2009)