The Rams picked up their first win of the 2010 season on Sunday afternoon, and it all started with Steven Jackson.
Steven burst out for a 42-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season, just over three minutes into the game and set the Rams on their way to a statement-making 30-16 victory. No. 39 did not finish the game after suffering a groin injury late in the first half, but his teammates held off the Redskins and finished the job.
"To have this win against the Washington Redskins means a lot," SJ39 told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The first two games, very close, and we talked as a team about finishing and putting games away. I think (Sunday) that's what happened."
S-Jax was the game's leading rusher with 58 yards on 10 carries and his early scoring run was the catalyst for the Rams, who led 14-0 after the first quarter. But the 42-yard jaunt came only after the Rams had taken a huge early risk.
SJ39 scoring on a 42-yard TD run (St. Louis Rams).
On the opening drive, the Rams went to Steven three times, two carries totaling seven yards and a screen pass that No. 39 rumbled for six yards on 3rd and 7 before being tackled just shy of the first down marker. On 4th and 1, St. Louis elected to go for it and Steven was the decoy as fullback Mike Karney pounded it for two yards and a first down at the Washington 38.
S-Jax was tossed back for a loss of four yards on the very next play but would extract his revenge on 2nd & 14.
No. 39 took a handoff from Sam Bradford to the right side of the field and got a great block from center Jason Brown to spring him to the second level.
"I honestly didn't know where Jack (Jackson) was, but that's when I saw Jack run right behind me,'' Brown told the Belleville News-Democrat. "Like I've said before, that's a beautiful picture where you see that No. 39 jersey getting smaller and smaller, that's exactly what it looked like."
Once in the linebacking corps, Steven shook off a would-be tackler, and cut back to the left where he picked up two more blocks, pushing through them to finally find open field. He galloped toward the left side of the field and raced toward the end zone with only safety LaRon Landry to beat. S-Jax used one final burst to outrun Landry and dove across the goal line with the ball outstretched for six.
"I saw a huge, gaping hole on the right side," Steven told the Alton Telgraph. "Once I ran through the line of scrimmage, I knew I was one-on-one with the safety. If I made him miss, I had a chance to score. He was the last line of defense. I gave him a little move; he bit on it, and I was able to crease it and take it to the end zone."
To watch Steven’s touchdown gallop, click here.
The run was Steven’s longest since he reeled off a 48-yard gain against the Cardinals last season, and the touchdown put the Rams on the board with a 7-0 lead. They would add a TD pass from Sam Bradford to Daniel Fells on their next possession, after a James Butler fumble return, to take a 14-0 lead.
Washington surged ahead briefly in the second half, by a score of 16-14, but St. Louis answered with a touchdown to take the lead back 21-16. Josh Brown tacked on three field goals in the fourth quarter to ice it.
The Rams passing game accounted for 235 yards on the day and Bradford has thrown for 655 yards through three games. No. 39 knows that success in the passing game will open things up for him on the ground.
"As our receivers continue to make plays, it's going to make us a dangerous offense," Jackson said. "A win is a win, but winning in this fashion shows that this team can win with adversity. We can play with the lead. Our defense faced a very talented offense and did a good job. If we were to win by a substantial lead or in this fashion, I think this fashion does more for our confidence."
INJURY WON’T HOLD STEVEN BACK
Steven was scheduled for an MRI on his groin injury Monday morning, but he told reporters after the game he doesn’t think it's serious.
"All the signs kind of say that it's not a tear," Jackson said after the Rams' 30-16 victory. "But you never know until the MRI. I'm just praying and hoping that it's not going to be a serious injury, and that I'll be able to come back and not have to sit out a long time."
Steven actually asked back into the game on Sunday, after stretching out a bit, but coach Steve Spagnuolo overruled him.
"He was going to give it a shot. It was probably best in hindsight that he didn't, that we get him healthy and hopefully get him for next week," Spagnuolo told the Belleville News-Democrat. "They were fairly certain that it was not torn," Spagnuolo said. "Now until you get in there and test it, they classify it as more of a strain or a sprain. What you didn't want to do is make it worse. We'll just see how he comes around. We'll keep our fingers crossed."
The injury occurred with 4:12 left in the first half as SJ39 was fighting for extra yardage on a 2nd and 8 run.
"I didn't know what was going on. I know I was being pulled apart, it kind of felt like in two different directions," Steven said. "I was thinking 'hold on to the ball' and I was hoping help would come soon. As far as a whistle, I didn't hear a whistle or anything."
But after the game, Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that S-Jax was pain free, though that might have had something to do with the victory.
"You could shoot me right now and I wouldn't care," Jackson cackled. "I honestly don't think I would feel a thing."
This was coming from a man who had abruptly left the game in the first half after the Washington defense treated him like a brittle wishbone on Thanksgiving, yanking Jackson's arms and legs in about six different directions and forcing the big running back to the sidelines with a damaged groin muscle for the second half.
But at this delirious moment, it didn't matter because Jackson and the rest of his Rams teammates were swept up in a strange case of total recall.
Get this, people: The Rams finally remembered how to win.
ONLY A STRAIN
Early Monday afternoon, Steven reported the results of his MRI on Twitter, and they were good:
It's only a strain…
In workhorse fashion, No. 39 went right into rehabilitation mode:
Acu time … I've put in 2 hours of rehab already today.
Rams show some second-half life; snap home losing streak (Belleville News-Democrat, September 27, 2010)
No Jackson, No Problem (Alton Telegraph, September 27, 2010)
Happy Ending for Rams (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 2010)
Jackson hopes for good news on injury (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 2010)
Burwell: Rams get reacquainted with winning (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 2010)
Jackson’s backups step up in a big way (Belleville News-Democrat, September 27, 2010)