The St. Louis Rams are quickly realizing that they have quite the tandem in the offensive backfield.
Steven Jackson and backup Daryl Richardson combined for 128 yards on 23 carries against the league’s No. 1 ranked rushing defense in Miami on Sunday. Unfortunately the outstanding ground effort didn’t lead to a win, as a 66-yard field goal try by Greg Zuerlein that would have tied the game went wide left as time expired.
“I wish we could’ve given him a little bit more room, but he gave it a good shot at it,” Steven said. “As a young team, we have to learn how to put teams away on the road. We could’ve scored some touchdowns and we left some points on the [field]. But you have to tip your hat to the Miami Dolphins, they did a good job.”
But a Dolphins defense that came into the game leading the league in rushing defense had little luck against St. Louis’ thunder and lightning combo of S-Jax and Richardson.
Steven totaled 80 yards of offense on 15 touches, including three catches and 12 rushes. He turned those rushes into 52 yards — a 4.3 yards per carry average — to pass Earl Campbell for 30th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 9,416 yards for his career. Richardson tacked on 76 rushing yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards receiving,
“Well, we set out early in the week and recognized the fact that they’re first in the league in rushing defense and that we had to run the football,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “You have to do that this time of the year to have a chance. So that was our focus all week and it’s got to continue to be our focus but, you know, we ran the ball well.”
The Rams opened up the game with the ground attack and moved down the field with ease on their opening drive. After Steven gained five yards on the first play of the afternoon, Richardson came in and scampered for 44 yards, deep into Miami territory at the 31. SJ brought the Rams five yards closer with a first down run, but the drive stalled after two fruitless passing attempts and they settled for a 48-yard Zuerlein field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
After the St. Louis defense made short work of the Dolphins offense, the Rams got the ball back and moved it through the air, highlighted by a 65-yard pass from Sam Bradford to Chris Givens. But again the drive stalled, this time at the 14-yard-line, and a 32 yarder from Zuerlein made it 6-0. After the game, Steven lamented the missed opportunities in the red zone.
“It’s a tough game. I believe on both sides of the ball we played really good football,” he said. “As an offense, we’ve got to learn how to put the ball in the end zone in the red zone. We came out and ran the ball really well. On the road it’s very hard to win, so we definitely have to turn those opportunities for touchdowns into points.”
The score remained 6-0 into the second quarter, when the Rams got another chance to put points on the board. The drive started at the St. Louis 27 and went 48 yards in just eight plays. Steven carried four times —highlighted by runs of 12 and 11 — and gained more than half the Rams’ yards on the drive. His last of those four runs put them at the Miami 26 for a manageable third down and six after a penalty had forced 2nd & 17. But Bradford was sacked and Zuerlein’s 52-yard attempt missed.
Miami scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and tacked on a field goal late in the half to take a 10-6 lead into the break. Another touchdown to start the second half had Miami in control at 17-6. But the Rams came on strong in the fourth, piecing together an 11-play 62-yard drive that featured heavy doses of both SJ and Richardson in the running and passing game. Yet it was Bradford who scored the touchdown on a one-yard keeper to make it a 17-12 game.
The Rams opted to go for two to make it a three-point game and Bradford found Steven for the conversion to make it 17-14 with 8:30 to go.
“We know that we can run the ball,” fullback Britt Miller said. “We have got a great 1-2 punch right now with Richardson and the big fella (Jackson) and it can be dangerous. Hopefully this is what we’ll continue to do. We want to get 100-yard games every week but unfortunately it was all in a loss.”
Miami followed St. Louis’ first touchdown drive with a clock-draining 10-play drive that even featured a fake punt. But the Rams put a stop to the drive near midfield and got the ball back at their own three with 1:41 to go and a chance to tie or win the game.
They managed to get across the 50 with less than a minute to go and gave Zuerlein a chance at the game-winner, which would’ve broken the NFL record if the rookie had connected from 66 yards out, It had enough leg, but sailed well to the left to end the game. The loss moved the Rams to 3-3 on the season, currently fourth in the NFC West, but just one game behind Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, who sit in a three-way tie for first. Still Steven saw the game as a missed opportunity, the type they don’t plan to let slip by the next time they have a chance.
“It’s a very slim [margin] of opportunity,” he said. “There’s so much parity in the league, that teams are very competitive. When you have the opportunity, we have to find those ways to will our way to it.”
The Rams return to the friendly confines of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for this coming Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
St. Louis last played Green Bay a year ago Wednesday during the Packers’ 15-1 2011 season and though the Rams lost 24-3, Steven carried 18 times for 96 yards and hauled in four passes for 29 yards. In five career games against the Pack, SJ39 has averaged 98.8 yards per game.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CDT and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Rams Making Ground Gains (StLouisRams.com, October 15, 2012)
- Wasted Chances Haunt Rams (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2012)
- Rams Unable to Finish (StLouisRams.com, October 15, 2012)
- No miracles for the Rams on this day (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2012)
- Rams Report Card (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 14, 2012)
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, October 14, 2012)
- Fisher stands by 66-yd FG try (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2012)
- Rams at Dolphins: Five Players to Watch Recap (Turf Show Times, October 15, 2012)
- Rams remain their own worst enemies on the road (RamsHerd, October 14, 2012)
- Wrap-up: Dolphins 17, Rams 14 (ESPN.com, October 14, 2012)