With a 48-yard run in the third quarter of a loss to the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks ago, St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the fifth straight season, a mark of consistency that has never been reached in Rams history.
Steven didn't have any time to celebrate his achievement in a losing effort, but having now had more time to think about it has given No. 39 a strong appreciation for his mark.
"I actually didn't take it all in until after the game. It was a tight game and I was hoping to pull out a win because that would have made me achieving 1,000 yards even more special than it was. I didn't really reflect on it until after the game when I was at home.
"It's an amazing feat to have and I want it to keep going for as long as I'm a starter in this league, I can continue to be consistent and show my consistency and my hard work. I share this with my offensive line and my fullback as well."
As an aficionado of Rams history, Steven is very familiar with the players with whom he stands in Rams lore. No. 39 recognizes both Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk as Rams icons and is truly honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the two all-time greats.
"It means a lot because once you say those two names you instantly think Hall of Fame. Hopefully I'm on the right track. I hope I'm going in the right direction and I'm making those two guys proud."
HELP IN THE TRENCHES
SJ believes the mark stands not only for his individual accomplishments, but for the Rams offensive accomplishments as a whole.
With 1,232 yards rushing through 12 weeks, Steven ranks second in the NFL. With 267 receiving yards on 44 catches, No. 39 is also on a pace to challenge 2,000 yards from scrimmage for the second time in his careeer. S-Jax is sure he could not accomplish the feats that he has without the help and support of the other 10 players on offense.
"We're definitely a threat on the ground," he said. "The offensive line and fullbacks, we're all fully jelled. We're working hard. Despite our record and despite what people think about us as an organization, it shows that we are consistently going, as a team, to work on our craft. I cannot thank my guys enough for sticking in there and working hard, week-in and week-out.
The success on the offensive line is a far cry from where the Rams have been in the last few seasons and even early this year, but the big men up front have united with a goal to open things up for No. 39.
"The last couple of years we've kind of had a revolving door at the offensive line positions," Steven said. "We had a lot of injuries and we never really had three or four games where we had the same lineup.
"To have some solidarity there, it means a lot and it allows for all of us to grow and have a feel for each other in certain situations where you may not have prepared in the practice week for it, but you know if it shows up during the game, what the next guy is going to do. It really makes everyone's job easier."
SPAGS' VISION LENDS PERSPECTIVE
Among the other men that Steven credits for his success in 2009 is his new head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Driven by both men's strong work ethics and desire to win, the two have built a strong bond between coach and player that is rare in the NFL.
"He's a guy that leans on me from the player point of view to be the leader of the team," S-Jax said. "I kind of lean on him for leadership advice. It's a fair exchange. I think it's been going well. He's helped me grow hopefully as much as I've helped him grow as a head coach."
Action Jackson admires coach Spagnuolo's dedication to making the Rams a better team in the face of adversity, hardship and criticism.
"He's a man with a vision," Steven said. "He has a purpose and a drive that you can't help but thrive off of and feed off it. It's contagious. He has a contagious spirit and it's a good spirit and that's really why a lot of guys have bought into what we're doing here."
With the right man leading the way, SJ believes the Rams are building something that the people of St. Louis and all the fans of No. 39 and the Rams can be proud of.
"We know that we're only one or two things away from putting together a really good football team here," Steven said. "We really have a solid foundation here and we're going to be special team because we have a special leader."
TRAINING ANOTHER LEADER
As a young team with a lot of new faces, the St. Louis Rams were searching for leadership on both sides of the ball.
While Steven provided that guidance on the offensive side, one of the Rams' youngest players has impressed SJ with his ability to pilot the defense.
Rams rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis leads the team in tackles with 97 and is 9th in the NFL. Of his 97 tackles, 84 have been solo, good for fourth in the league. Playing through the pain of a sore shoulder on Sunday, Laurinaitis still managed 12 tackles. He's made quite an impression on No. 39 by taking on the role as the leader of the Rams defense.
"He should definitely be considered for rookie of the year," S-Jax said. "He's having a stellar year. He's a sure tackler and he's a real smart guy. He's running that defense and that's a heavy load for a young rookie."
Though Steven and Laurinaitis don't go head-to-head in practice anymore, No. 39 knew from the moment he saw the way Laurinaitis played in training camp that the rookie had the fire to be a special player in the NFL.
"During training camp he was still learning his ways," S-Jax said. "You could definitely see the talent in him. You could see he is a football player and he's going to be a pro bowler one day."
Steven and his Rams teammates finish a two game road swing in the Music City where they'll take on the Tennessee Titans this Sunday at 3 p.m. CST. The matchup pits Steven against the only man he trails for the rushing title, Titans running back Chris Johnson. All the action can be seen on FOX.