Playing on their home field for the first time in nearly a month, Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams had myriad chances against the visiting New York Jets on Sunday.
But missed opportunities and turnovers haunted the Rams again at Edward Jones Dome.
Steven had a deep and sudden impact in Sunday’s game, and was one of the more productive skill position players on either side of the ball. SJax finished with an impressive 81 yards on 13 carries, a beastly 6.2 average. SJ39 broke open three rushes for upward of 10 yards. But the Rams couldn’t take advantage of his production in a 27-13 loss. After the game Steven was hurt by the loss, but maintained his resilience and team-oriented professionalism while discussing the setback.
“It’s pretty difficult,” he said. “It’s frustrating because we’ll go in tomorrow and we’ll look at the film and we’ll see some things that we did really well and then we’ll see some things that we didn’t do too well.”
The Rams played well at the start of the game as their defense forced an early Jets punt and the offense moved the ball down the field quickly. On his very first touch of the day, Steven burst through the right side of the line for an 11-yard gain. On that first drive alone, SJ39 carried the rock five times for 26 yards, keeping the chains moving on a possession that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Austin Pettis to make it 7-0.
New York settled for a field goal on its next drive and the Rams led 7-3 at the end of the first. The score remained that way deep into the second quarter despite a Bradford interception thanks to a field goal block by Janoris Jenkins.
Both teams were fruitless on their first two drives of the second half. But on the Rams’ third drive of the half, S-Jax made room on the right side of the line and broke through for a 21-yard gain before being brought down deep in Jets territory.
It appeared the Rams would roll right into the end zone but the drive was prematurely cut off when, just two plays later, Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson reached Sam Bradford on a sack and forced a fumble—one of three costly Ram turnovers in the game. The Jets recovered the fumble and returned it to the Rams 28.
Momentum swung its heavy hand and the Rams began to lose traction. It took just two plays from there for New York to take the lead for good as Mark Sanchez hooked up with Chaz Schilens for a 25-yard touchdown. Steven said the Rams’ failure to take control was ultimately their undoing.
“We started the game really fast. We knew it was going to be a tough game, especially coming off a heartbreaker last week. We knew that we were going to have our hands full,” he said. “We had opportunities to win the game and establish the tempo, and then turnovers and penalties just hurt us. We stubbed our toe in this one.”
The Rams went three and out on their next drive and though SJ39 had pierced the Jets defense for 51 yards on nine carries in the half, St. Louis trailed 13-7 at the break.
Despite facing just a one-possession deficit at the half and through the third quarter, the Rams leaned away from the run in the second half and Steven carried just four more times between the third and fourth quarter, but No. 39 made them count. On the first drive of the second half, he carried twice, gaining seven yards each time. But the Rams were forced to punt before they reached mid-field.
The Rams punted twice in the third quarter and the Jets turned the field on them, eventually turning their second possession of the half into a touchdown to take a 20-7 lead early in the fourth. On the third play of the next Rams drive, Steven’s backup Daryl Richardson fumbled, giving the Jets possession in St. Louis territory. Seven plays later, the Jets scored a backbreaking third touchdown to take a commanding 20-point lead with 8:29 to go.
One of the primary struggles the Rams faced Sunday afternoon was a trio of turnovers. Steven has long been of the best protectors of the ball in the league, and hasn’t fumbled the pigskin since November of last season. Still, No. 39 continues to lead by example in the locker room and on the sidelines. Personal performance is one thing, but the team presides over all. For Steven, it’s all about the “we” and not the “I”.
“It’s really hard to win a game when you have minus-three turnovers. It’s just really hard to overcome that and we’ve got to help our defense out, we’ve got to help our special teams out. We have to score on offense and we’ve all got to lean on each other.”
Steven proved that the Rams can lean on him, even with a large deficit, by inflicting his will on the Jets in the fourth quarter. On the first play after the New York’s third touchdown, SJ was once again able to break through for a gain of just over 20 yards before being forced out of bounds.
Impressed with Steven’s running style and performance against the Jets, Rams writer Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that Steven exhibited “a positively bullish show of force.”
The play got some momentum rolling for St. Louis and six plays later Bradford connected with Brandon Gibson from three yards out to make it 27-13. Steven noted it as an example of the team refusing to give in despite steep odds and hopes to echo that message for the rest of the season.
“We have to keep chopping wood. These young guys have to learn and I will try my best to teach them. [They have to learn] that each and every week is a new game. Each and every game is going to be a tough fight regardless of who the opponent is, regardless of what the record reflects. It’s tough to win in this league.”
Despite a holiday weekend ahead, the forthcoming week of preparation could not come soon enough for Steven and the Rams
They head to Arizona this weekend to take on a Cardinals team that they defeated on October 4th. At the time, the Rams moved to 3-2 with all the promise of a young team finding its groove, but they have not won since.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 3:25 CST and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Losing Habits Die Hard for Young Rams (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 19, 2012)
- Turnover Battle Haunts Rams (StLouisRams.com, November 18, 2012)
- Rams Inexplicably Abandon Run (Turf Show Times, November 19, 2012)
- Rams Dominated by Jets (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 2012)
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, November 18, 2012)