A win had been long delayed for the St. Louis Rams, but against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, running back Steven Jackson would not be denied.
No. 39 rushed for a season-high 149 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown with 1:38 left in the game that proved to be the winner in St. Louis 17-10 victory at Ford Field in Detroit.
For Steven, months, of hard work and a dedication to training and making himself better finally paid off. After the game, S-Jax talked about the feeling of scoring the game-winning touchdown to snap a 17-game losing streak, as quoted on StLouisRams.com:
"That run felt really good," Jackson said. "At that point of the game we felt like we had to close the game out. We knew that pretty much whoever had the ball last was going to have a pretty good chance of driving the ball and putting the game away. We as an offensive unit really felt like it was our time to take over the game. The offensive line, the fullback, everyone believed in what we were doing and it really showed. That last run was an exclamation point for the way the game went for us."
Steven's 25-yard run capped a banner day for No. 39, who gained a total of 164 yards from scrimmage, his largest mark of the season. In the process passed one of his heroes, Eric Dickerson on the Rams' all time list of yards from scrimmage. S-Jax now sits in fifth place on that list. He also now ranks second in the league in rushing this season with 784 yards, only 40 yards behind Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson:
"It couldn't happen to a better guy," Tight end Daniel Fells told the Associated Press. "Steven is the rock of this team. We all look up to him."
Of the many memorable runs Steven has had in his career, this one and what it ended may carry the most meaning so far.
The design of the play was a simple run off right tackle, meant to pick up a few yards on first down and keep the drive moving. But with help from his blockers, Steven hit the edge and took off untouched toward the end zone. There was not a soul that would deny No. 39 that glory.
Rams center Jason Brown got caught up in the moment, as quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"You look up and you see No. 39 getting smaller and smaller and you say, 'Thank you … thank you so much.'
"One guy can't take him down; he's a horse … a stallion," Brown said."
S-Jax was quick to give credit back to the guys that created the hole, as quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"I'm really proud of what the guys did up front. I don't think I can give them enough praise," Jackson said. "The team as a whole, everyone answered the challenge."
When he arrived at the end zone, Steven motioned for his teammates to back off so he could do his familiar dice-rolling celebration. It was well-deserved after all of the hard work Steven put into himself this offseason to make the team and himself better.
"That's Steven, just the way the run (went) and breaking all those tackles," first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters after the game. "He was determined to get into the end zone. That's what he's all about."
"We all know that Steve is a will and determination guy. "It doesn't matter how many guys he has to go through, he does that. That was key getting it out of there.''
THE AFTER PARTY
This afternoon, S-Jax made an appearance on Jay Glazer's the After Party at Foxsports.com.
Each week Glazer talks to the Sunday's top performers and Steven ranked near the top of the class this week. Check out Steven on the After Party below:
In his column following the Rams' win on Sunday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell took fans inside the game-winning drive.
In the locker room, Burwell spoke with No. 39 about how he approached that final drive. An excerpt:
"But Jackson was looking for something entirely different. The big, bruising tailback was sick and tired of being sick and tired. "Enough is enough," he kept saying over and over inside his head. "Let's end this NOW!"
So he did a rather curious thing as he walked into that huddle to start this critical, do-or-die drive. Jackson walked up one end of the huddle and down the other, peering into the faces of his teammates. He stared at the linemen, glared at the tight ends and receivers, and went facemask to facemask with his fullback with one specific purpose in mind.
"I told them, 'I just want to see if you're afraid,'" he said.
Afraid of what?
Afraid to win or scared to lose.
It sure did seem like a legitimate question considering the circumstances. When you've suffered through as much losing as the Rams have, you can't take too much for granted."
When asked what he saw, Steven smiled:
"What did I see?" he said. "I didn't see any fear. I saw that they responded."
To read Burwell's entire column and find out what "O-line-ism" is and how it relates to No. 39, click here.
MORE LOVE FROM 'MATES
Following the victory, reporters circled the locker room, asking No. 39's teammates about his performance Sunday and his overall meaning to the team.
Veteran tight end Randy McMichael, summed up his feelings in one thought for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Best running back in football, without a doubt," McMichael said. "We call him 'The Beast.'
Defensive end Leonard Little also weighed in:
"Steve was a man the whole game," Little said.
Rams quarterback Marc Bulger noted that Steven plays consistently from week-to-week, always giving his all, the only difference Sunday was, more people noticed because the team won:
"He played like Steven does every week … win or lose, that's how he runs," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I'm glad he got to get in the end zone.
"We've been snakebitten a little bit, so I was just hoping he didn't trip or … I was looking around for flags," Bulger explained. "Once he was in, we were excited."
There's plenty more to read regarding the first victory of the season for Steven and the Rams:
At StLouisRams.com, the official website of the Rams, Nick Wagoner breaks down the victory and Steven's contributions to it:
For every moment of every game and every carry he has had this season, Jackson has run as hard as possible. And his grit and determination has carried over into the locker room where he has evolved into the team’s unquestioned leader.
Still, for all of that work, Jackson had not yet been rewarded with even a touchdown, let alone a win. Until Sunday."
ESPN.com's Mike Sando believes Steven deserves a nod for the Pro Bowl, to be held in Miami the week prior to the Super Bowl this year:
Steven Jackson continued to set the tone for the Rams by shaking off tacklers and willing the Rams to victory. He has played at a Pro Bowl level all season. The difference Sunday was that the Rams finally found an opponent they could outscore despite issues on offense.
Help Steven get to the Pro Bowl by clicking here and stuffing the ballot box.
Will at Rams Herd lists 39 reasons why the Rams are not the worst team in football and the use of the Number 39 is no coincidence:
1. As he showed today, Steven Jackson (#39) is a beast among men, a difference-making playmaker in the mental and physical prime of his career. Without him, the other 38 reasons are largely irrelevant.
2. More on SJ: Last offseason was wrecked by his contract negotiation. This offseason, aware of the winds of change surrounding the franchise, he talked of transforming himself into a leader. And I was as skeptical as anyone else. After all, words are cheap. (My job as a blogger is words, and let me tell you, words do not pay well!) But he has shown true patience and leadership through these adverse times, and deserves credit for his dedication to team as well as to his physical gifts.
The grades are in and Steven came up aces on the Report Cards at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Turf Show Times.
The Rams blogs also did a great job of recapping the game. Check out Turf Show Times, Rams Herd and Rams Gab for more.
Steven and the Rams get to carry Sunday's victory into the bye week and savor it for an two weeks before returning to action.
S-Jax believes it's exactly what the Rams were in search of, as quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"This is exactly what we needed, kind of what the doctor ordered right before the bye," Jackson said. "We're going to take this in. We're going to enjoy this."
"We have some tough opponents coming home, but … I think we have a great chance ahead of us these next three weeks."
St. Louis returns to action in two weeks against the currently undefeated New Orleans Saints at Edwards Jones Dome on Nov. 15.
Steven Jackson carries Rams to a 'W' (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2, 2009)
Rams find daylight (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2, 2009)
Rams rise to challenge (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2, 2009)
Rams Report Card at Detroit (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2, 2009)
Rams win in a rush (StLouisRams.com, November 1, 2009)
Fake field goal helps Rams snap losing skid (Belleville News-Democrat, November 2, 2009)
Rams tame Lions, earn first win of the season (Belleville News-Democrat, November 2, 2009)
Wrap-up: Rams 17, Lions 10 (ESPN.com, November 1, 2009)
Rams 17, Lions 10: It's a win! (Turf Show Times, November 1, 2009)
Grading the Rams (Turf Show Times, November 2, 2009)
Rams-Lions: A pile of ugly = a beautiful win (Rams Herd, November 1, 2009)
39 reasons why the Rams are not the worst team in football (Rams Herd, November 1, 2009)
Steven Jackson and Rams beat Lions 17-10 (Rams Gab, November 1, 2009)