Steven Jackson topped 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth straight season Sunday and rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game, two more milestones in a year filled with them for No. 39.
But all S-Jax could do wasn't enough for the St. Louis Rams to take down the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals. Despite a late touchdown by Steven, the Rams couldn't complete their comeback from a 21-3 halftime deficit, falling 21-13 to Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome.
For the fifth straight year, Steven has rushed for over 1,000 yards (courtesy StLouisRams.com).
As Steven told the Associated Press the Rams were doomed by a rough start that allowed the Cardinals to take an 18-point lead in the first half.
"We just came out really flat," Jackson said. "Against a team like Arizona, it's really hard to overcome that."
No. 39 rushed for a game-high 116 yards on 24 carries, his fourth straight game running for over 100 yards. He's topped 100 in six of St. Louis' 10 games this season.
Steven had only rushed for 100 yards six times over the last two seasons and he'd never before topped 100 yards in four consecutive games.
He's now gone over 100 on the ground 22 times in his career.
BREAKING THE CENTURY MARK
With a 48-yard run late in the third quarter, S-Jax also topped 1000 yards for the fifth straight season, a feat never accomplished in Rams history.
Neither Hall-of-Famer Eric Dickerson, nor future Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk had such unparalleled runs of consistency. Steven told reporters afterward that it's hard to celebrate such a feat when it comes in a losing effort, as quoted in the Belleville News-Democrat:
"It feels good," said Jackson, who has 1,031 yards for the season and for his career ranks third on the Rams' all-time rushing list behind Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk with 6,322 yards. "I must say it would it would feel a lot better if we got it with a win.
"Although statistically it only says Steven Jackson next to that (record), I share this with my whole offensive line and my fullback, Mike Karney."
No. 39 now stands at 1,031 yards rushing for the season, enough to move him into second in the NFL. Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, who plays tonight, currently holds a 60-yard lead over Steven for the rushing title.
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo feels honored to have been blessed with such a great running back during his first NFL head-coaching gig, as quoted by the Belleville News-Democrat:
"I went in there and I grabbed him, and told him that I was really proud of him," Spagnuolo said. "It's something special. Everybody ought to recognize that, (and) he ought to think about that tonight because it's special. Not a lot of guys are able to do that.
"I know down deep that (records are) not the most important thing to him, because I know the kind of guy he is. I think we ought to tip our hat to him, and credit the offensive line as well."
The 48-yard run on which Steven eclipsed 1000 yards was, in theory, a relatively simple run off right tackle. No. 39 picked up the block from his right tackle on Cardinals linebacker Darnell Dockett, weaved to dodge another linebacker and galloped down the right sideline toward the end zone.
But as he closed in on the end zone, Steven was tracked down by Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams and safety Adrian Wilson both coming over from the left side of the field with an angle on S-Jax. The two forced 39 out at the five-yard line.
"We've got to tip our hats to them," said Jackson of the Arizona defense. "They did a tremendous job of really being stout against the run at first. It really made it difficult for me to get some yards at the beginning of the game."
From five yards out, the Rams were denied on the next three plays, including a one-yard pass to Steven on third down where he looked to be ticketed for the end zone before being yanked down by Arizona forcing a field goal that made it 21-6. Steven gave the Cardinals credit for a strong defense when speaking to the Belleville News-Democrat:
"Actually when I caught the ball, I thought it was a touchdown but Rolle did a great job of cutting my angle off," Jackson said. "Rolle really did a good job of bee-lining. He really cut my angle off at the pylon and Dansby, he grabbed my legs.
"It was a heck of a play by those two defenders."
ANOTHER ROLL OF THE DICE
Arizona couldn't keep No. 39 out of the end zone forever. In the fourth quarter with the Rams once again knocking on the door, Steven punched it in.
A long pass from Marc Bulger to Danny Amendola left the Rams on the Arizona one with 7:13 to play. On first down SJ39 took the Marc Bulger hand off behind his left tackle. Steven was met at the line by Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes with a hard hit. But S-Jax powered through the blow just enough to stretch his arm, ball in hand, over the goal line for six.
It was Steven's third touchdown of the season, one each in the last three games. No. 39 last rushed for scores in three straight games at the end of the season in his 2006 Pro-Bowl campaign. He finished that year with touchdowns in four straight games.
S-Jax's teammates on the offensive line consider it an honor to block for him, as quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"I consider it a privilege to be able to block for such a talented back; it's exciting every single week," said center Jason Brown, a free-agent signee in the offseason. "He makes our job so much easier, because not only does he see the holes develop, he's going to make sure he gives everything he has."
But Steven believes the recent success is a testament not only to himself but also to the hard work put in by his offensive line and his fullback, as quoted in the News-Democrat:
"I'm really proud of the work we've done so far as the groundwork," Jackson said. "Hopefully we can turn this success into a win as a team.
"We've got to make sure — and when I say 'we' I'm talking about the veterans on this team — to make sure we're ready to play from the beginning and not try to go out there and just turn a switch on," Jackson said. "We have to be ready from kickoff on."
REPORT CARD A'S AND SILVER LININGS
With another successful game on Sunday, Steven continues to rake in accolades in the press.
Steven has found a permanent home atop the Rams Silver Linings, posted after each Rams loss by ESPN.com's Mike Sando.
From Turf Show Times' 3k:
"This was the most unpronounced 116 yd, 1 TD game by Steven Jackson I've ever seen. Maybe that makes it the most impressive. Outside of bouncing a run up the sidelines for 48 yards, Jackson pounded the ball for 3 yards into the heart of the Cards' D all day. You can fault the playcalling and the Oline, but you can't fault Jackson. He's incredible."
Also at Turf Show Times, VanRam notes that Steven didn't get the ball enough at the end of the game.
"Steven Jackson is amazing. It looked like rough going for the big man, but he still managed to get 116 yards and 4.8 per carry. The offensive line didn't help much in the first half, and he had trouble getting it going. Once he hit his stride, there was no looking back…until the coaches stopped feeding him the ball.
Steven rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries in the second half, but only got the ball once on the final two drives of the game.
Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch, believes that St. Louis' 'stone age' offense and lack of talent at quarterback and receiver, are holding Steven back:
"Unless this changes, Steven Jackson is destined to go down as the Floyd Little of his era. Little — a finalist for 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration — was a superb back who took a beating in donating his valiant career to a losing cause for the Denver Broncos from 1967 through 1975. The Broncos, inept in other areas, went 42-64-5 with Little in the lineup."
Steven and the Rams will look to avenge an opening week blowout loss in Seattle when they host the Seahawks this Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CST.
Steven Jackson notches another milestone (Belleville News-Democrat, November 23, 2009)
Jackson reaches milestone in defeat (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2009)
Stone age attack has Rams grounded (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2009)
Rams Report Card vs. Cardinals (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2009)
Steven Jackson's pace puts him in pretty fast company (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 21, 2009)
Trouble on the home front (Turf Show Times, November 22, 2009)
Grading the Rams: Week 11 vs. Arizona (Turf Show Times, November 22, 2009)
Silver linings: Rams vs. Cardinals (ESPN.com, November 22, 2009)
Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams Box Score (ESPN.com, November 22, 2009)