For the second straight week, Steven Jackson took the field nursing a sore back that would keep many on the sidelines on a bitter cold Chicago Sunday.
But with his performance week-in and week-out Steven continues to prove that he isn't like many others out there.
No. 39 rushed for more than 100 yards for the seventh time this season, accumulating 112 yards on 28 carries for the afternoon.
No. 39 rushed for over 100 yards for the seventh time this year (courtesy of St. Louis Post Dispatch.)
It's what S-Jax qualifies as determination and passion, as quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Just gritting it out. Guttiness, you know?" Jackson said. "There's no shortcut to it. I knew coming into this game, and even last week, we were going to face eight, nine men in the box, and it was going to be rough."
But despite yet another strong showing in a remarkable season for Action Jackson, he was kept out of the end zone for the first time in four games and the Rams fell on the road to the Chicago Bears, 17-9.
Steven noted that he and his teammates were right where they wanted to be for the entire game. They just couldn't get over the hump, as quoted in the Post-Dispatch:
"You can't ask for anything better: tough game, close game, late in the fourth quarter," Jackson said. "We had great field position the whole game, and we just were unable to capitalize on it. … It's really tough to swallow."
PLENTY OF PRAISE
All season SJ39 has been asked to shoulder the load for the Rams.
The passing game has struggled to get going and Steven has been one of its top targets when it is functioning. When he's not running through an eight man box, he's catching a pass and trying to make a tackler miss. The overall effort is something his teammates appreciate:
"Guys like him, you get banged up, the team's not doing great, but you come out and you perform," Rams guard Jacob Bell said. "He's one of the best. I'm just happy to be out there with him."
S-Jax hauled in a team-high four catches on Sunday and though he was only able to get loose for nine yards on those catches, the men around him knew he was trying with all his might:
"He's tough, physical, he'll run you over, make you miss," said rookie wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who led the team in receiving Sunday with 38 yards on three catches. "He's a special athlete."
Steven's 112 rushing yards on Sunday cemented his NFC lead in rushing. At 1,232 yards he has a 129-yard lead on Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and trails only Tennessee's Chris Johnson (1,509 yards) for the NFL lead. No. 39 also leads the league in rushing attempts with 266 carries. Even with the heavy load he averages 4.6 yards per carry and 102.7 yards per game.
At his current pace, S-Jax will top 1,600 rushing yards for the first time in his six-year career.
"He's running like a madman," tight end Randy McMichael said. "But it seems like it's all for naught, because we're not doing anything with it. We run up and down the field; we're just not crossing the goal line."
Steven, however, doesn't believe it's all for naught, as quoted in the Post-Dispatch:
"Everyone's playing hard, everyone's doing what they're asked to do. The end result on Sunday is, we keep coming up short."
Steven's four-game touchdown streak was snapped on Sunday afternoon, but he has still accounted for more than 100 yards of total offense in each of St. Louis' last eight games.|
All that despite eight men packing the box for a potential run on nearly every play.
On his Rams Report Card, Bill Coats of St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives S-Jax yet another A:
Again playing with a sore back, Steven Jackson took on a heavy workload and produced a solid outing: 28 carries for 112 yards, four catches for 9 yards. GRADE: A-
Also at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bernie Miklasz argues that the Rams' offense's biggest deficiency lies in not exploiting what the defense is giving the Rams by loading up against Steven:
Here's what I don't understand: Why don't these coaches try to take advantage of the defense smothering Jackson? I give Shurmur and Spagnuolo credit for establishing Jackson as a force; SJ39 had 112 yards rushing Sunday and is up to 1,232 yards for the season. But the Rams should be able to exploit the defense's obsession with Jackson.
For instance: Where are the play-action passes? How many times have we seen the Rams fake a handoff to Jackson to get the defense moving the wrong way, then burning 'em with a pass?
It isn't a part of their plan. And that's incomprehensible. We're talking Football 101 here. But when I asked Spagnuolo about the play-action fakes, he suggested that the Rams can do more damage against the anti-Jackson defense by continuing to run Jackson. Interesting. Worse, Spagnuolo also suggested there are no plans to change their ways.
In USA Today's Week 13 Review, Steven also gets credit where it's due:
Best player on a bad team: Rams RB Steven Jackson rushed for 112 yards in a 17-9 loss to the Bears. It was the fifth time in the last six games Jackson had surpassed 100 yards.
But it was Turf Show Times blogger Van Ram that dished out the loftiest praise, applauding the continued heroic performances of St. Louis leader:
Speaking of Jackson…truly the man is a hero, a shrugging Atlas who somehow grinds his way through defenses.
The Rams are back on the road next week in Tennessee where they'll take on the Titans. The matchup pits the NFL's top two rushers as Steven faces off against Chris Johnson.
Kickoff is slated for 3:05 CST and the action can be seen live on FOX.
Jackson answers bell again (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 7, 2009)
Rams Report Card at Chicago (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 6, 2009)
The Huddle: Week 13 bests & worsts (USA Today, December 6, 2009)
Rams just don't have it in 'em anymore (Turf Show Times, December 6, 2009)
You snooze, you lose; watching Rams it's easy to do both (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 7, 2009)
Rams vs. Bears recap (AP, December 6, 2009)