Steven Jackson doesn’t take kindly to missing games.
So when a groin strain kept him out for the entire second half of last week’s win over the Redskins, SJ39 set his sights on being ready for this week’s game in Chicago.
No. 39 missed practice all week, but on Sunday morning before the Rams’ game against the Bears, there he was on the field going through drills with the running backs. After Coach Jeff Fisher and his staff observed Steven’s warmups and consulted with him, they declared SJ39 fit to play in Sunday’s game.
“I gave them confidence that I could go in and lead this team emotionally and be the starter at running back,” S-Jax said. “I felt that I could go. I felt I wasn’t going to further injure myself and make myself more susceptible to missing games.”
Go Steven did, starting the game in the backfield. But he found gaining ground tough against the stout Chicago run defense and finished with 29 yards rushing on just 11 carries. With those yards, Steven did move pass Ahman Green into 31st on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, just 174 behind Earl Campbell for 30th.
After serving as a decoy on the first two offensive plays of the game, SJ got his first carry on 1st & 10 from the 32 and gained four yards. No. 39 went on to carry twice more on the drive, which briefly crossed into Bears territory but ended with a punt. Those were Steven’s only carries of the opening quarter, after which Chicago led 3-0.
The Bears led 10-0 when Steven next touched the ball, a five-yard run to open St. Louis’ final drive of the first half. But he carried just twice on that drive, gaining a total of eight yards as the Rams ran the two-minute offense. They got all the way to the Chicago 37 before the drive stalled, but a 54-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein pulled the Rams to within seven, 10-3, at halftime.
“The Bears just did a good job of scheming us,” Steven said. “The particular defense that they play, they keep the ball in front of them and make you execute. With the field position we were getting, we had to put together some long successful drives.”
The Rams and Bears traded fruitless drives to start the second half, but St. Louis started to move on their second drive of the half. That drive saw SJ tote the ball four times, including a nice 13-yard burst, his largest gain of the game.
SJ’s work helped St. Louis cross over into the Bears’ end of the field, but the drive stalled on three consecutive incompletions inside the 30 and the Rams settled for another field goal to make it 10-6. According to Steven, one of the biggest issues for the Rams in the game was that they weren’t successful enough on first and second down.
That left them in several third and long situations and limited their options against the tough Bears defense. The Rams were just 3-of-13 on third down and eight of their 13 third down situations were more than five yards. That was part of the reason that the Rams ran just 15 running plays all day against 43 pass plays.
“When you get into second or third and long, that just really stalls your drive,” Steven said. “We would like to be third and manageable. I think that’s what we did last week to pull the win off. When you get into third and long, it really makes you one-dimensional and allows for a defense to be more aggressive.”
Chicago got their three points back on a field goal early in the fourth to make it 13-6, but the Rams were still within one score with less than 10 minutes to go. However, on the fourth play of the subsequent drive, Sam Bradford was intercepted on a deflection by Bears safety Major Wright, who returned it 45 yards to make it 20-6 Chicago.
St. Louis went three and out on each of their next two drives and the Bears tacked on a field goal with 2:18 left to make it a three-possession game. They held onto that lead to beat the Rams 23-6. Afterward SJ39 said he felt no ill effects from playing through the groin strain, but wished he and the offense could’ve done more.
“I came out of this clean. I just wish I could’ve been more productive and helped my team win,” Steven said. “Until about midway through the fourth quarter, we really thought we were gonna take the lead and go ahead. Our defense did a fairly good job. We as an offense did not help them at all. We took a step back. We have to put this behind us and get ready for a divisional game.”
The Rams (1-2) return home where they’ll host the Seahawks (1-1) next Sunday in their first NFC West showdown of the young season.
In two games against Seattle last season, SJ39 carried 35 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also had six catches for 79 yards over the course of the two meetings, but the Rams lost both games and have not defeated Seattle since October 3,, 2010 when they thumped the Seahawks 20-3 at the Edward Jones Dome.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CDT and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Jackson Plays Through Leg Injury (StLouisRams.com, September 23, 2012)
- Jackson is able to play but finds rough going (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 23, 2012)
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, September 23, 2012)
- Rams smacked with jolt of harsh reality (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 23, 2012) Setting expectations for Steven Jackson (ESPN.com, September 23, 2012)
- Even Brian Urlacher Wonders Why The Rams Gave Up On The Run (Turf Show Times, September 24, 2012)
- Rams Come Up Short in Chicago (StLouisRams.com, September 23, 2012)
- 5 Observations from Week 3 (Ramblin’ Fan, September 23, 2012)
- Bears give Rams a bruising defeat (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 23, 2012)
- A Look Back At Where It All Went Wrong For The Offense (Turf Show Times, September 24, 2012)