The St. Louis Rams have shown plenty of reasons to believe they are on the rise this season. This Sunday, they’ll face their toughest test to date.
Steven Jackson and the Rams (3-3) welcome the Green Bay Packers (3-3) to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday for a crucial conference showdown. Green Bay is coming off one of the most dominant offensive performances of the season on Sunday night, when they picked apart the previously unbeaten Houston Texans on the way to a 42-24 win.
The Packers possess one of the most potent offenses in the NFL and for that reason Steven thinks the onus will be on the St. Louis offense to manage the game and capitalize on every opportunity to score.
“It’s going to be very important, not only that we control the clock and convert third downs, we also have to score touchdowns once we’re in the red zone,” Steven said. “Those guys are coming with a red-hot offense. Their performance last week was just stellar so we have to do a good job of helping our defense out. They’ve played pretty well all season long and we have to take some of that load off of them.”
To do so, the Rams must run the ball the way they are capable, as they did last week in Miami. Steven and teammate Daryl Richardson combined for 128 yards rushing against a stout Dolphins defense and this week the Rams face a Packers defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense. Green Bay has allowed more than 110 yards per game on the ground this season and in five career games against the Packers, SJ39 has run for an average of 98.8 yards per game.
But Steven won’t be doing it alone on Sunday and he complimented Richardson and the offensive line for making the unit more potent in recent weeks.
“Daryl has done a great job when he’s been in there. Whenever you have a back that’s able to come in and do a great job, it makes it easier for me,” he said. “Whatever we can do to keep us going as an offense, putting together drives consecutively and wearing down the defense. We’re all starting to gel and I think you saw that Sunday.”
The Rams passing offense is still reeling from the loss of lead receiver Danny Amendola in the team’s win over the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago. The injury sent a message across the Rams offense that there was a need for everyone to step up and the running backs took it to heart.
“We took pride in the running backs room that we’re going to have to take some of that weight off the shoulders [of the receivers] with Danny going down,” SJ said. “It’s not going to change this week. They have a potent offense that we want to keep off the field and we have to make sure that we continue to convert on third down.”
Still, the Rams will have to pass the ball in order to establish a balanced offense and they’ll do so against a Green Bay front seven that gets to the quarterback better than any other team in the league. The Packers lead the NFL in sacks with 21 through the first six weeks and St. Louis has focused plenty of attention this week in practice on protecting the pocket for Sam Bradford.
Steven is widely regarded as one of the best pass blocking backs in the NFL and told reporters that he earned that reputation through a lot of hard work and study.
“I take great pride in [pass blocking]. I understand that protecting the quarterback is just as important as doing my job and that’s being a great runner,” SJ39 said. “I had two different pro style offenses in college with two different coaches, so I was comfortable with it, but it’s something you still have to get used to in the pros. Guys actually work on their blitz technique and their aggressiveness and hiding. A lot of teams do a good job of disguising the blitz, so you have to be able to dissect it and that comes with repetition and hours of film.”
On Sunday, the Rams will be looking for their fourth win of the season to move back above the .500 mark and toward the top of the NFC West.
All three of the teams’ previous wins have come on their home field, where they are currently unbeaten and S-Jax expects a raucous crowd at the Dome on Sunday to back them up.
“I believe our fans are going to answer the call,” he said. “They (Packers fans) travel well. It’s not a far trip for them. The Dome, we’re undefeated there and we’ve done a good job of defending home, so we’ve got to make sure that we do it again. We have a tough opponent in Green Bay, but if we want people to be for real about us, we’ve got to win these kinds of games.”
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CDT and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Rams Set for Start of Series of Tough Tests (StLouisRams.com, October 19, 2012)
- Packers vs. Rams: Five animated keys to the game (Turf Show Times, October 19, 2012)
- Protecting Against Packers a Hairy Proposition (StLouisRams.com, October 18, 2012)
- Packers vs Rams Week Seven Capsule (Rams Gab, October 17, 2012)
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, October 18, 2012)
- Week Seven Preview – Green Bay at St.Louis (Gridiron Gab, October 18, 2012)
- Keys to the Game: Green Bay (StLouisRams.com, October 18, 2012)