Sunday was a bittersweet afternoon for Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome.
On a day when SJ39 passed the 10,000-yard mark on the ground, becoming just the 27th running back in NFL history to do so, the Rams were undone by the contributions of another member of the running fraternity, Adrian Peterson.
Steven turned in his top offensive performance of the season with a combined 146 total yards, earning 73 yards on the ground and 73 more yards off eight catches. Peterson was on top of his game as well, rushing for 212 yards and a touchdown. So despite an All-Pro performance from No. 39, the Rams fell to the Vikings, 36-22, to snap their three game-winning streak.
With the loss, the Rams fell to 6-7-1 on the season, and with two games remaining have been all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Steven and the Rams would love to have Sunday’s game back and he talked afterward what cost the Rams the game.
“Missed opportunities,” he said. “Their defensive line got after us a little bit. We all make mistakes. It’s one of those things where it’s not one person. We’ve been unable to play as a team in all three phases. One group will show up and the other wouldn’t. Our defense started out really stellar, and when they did we didn’t help them out right away.”
With Steven nearing the 10,000-yard mark and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson barreling toward the single season rushing record, much of the focus leading up to and during the game was on the pair of superstar backs. The Vikings star told reporters that No. 39 is someone he looked up to as he broke into the league.
“He’s got good speed, got incredible feet, great vision,” Peterson said. “He’s a guy before I got in the league that I used to love watching.”
Peterson entered the 2012 season coming off surgery for a complete ACL tear, but has gone on to lead the league in rushing yards. Prior to the game, S-Jax was asked by reporters if there is added motivation when going head-to-head with another outstanding running back.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t,” Steven said. “He’s having an unbelievable year. I’m actually really happy for him, the way he’s bounced back. It’s very inspirational.”
Steven had an explosive start on the afternoon, taking his first four carries for 34 yards in the first quarter. But Steven carried just nine times for the rest of the game and when the momentum shifted in Minnesota’s favor, St. Louis opted to go away from him. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that the Rams are more productive the more SJ carries the ball.
“When the Rams ignore Jackson, they tend to lose football games. When the Rams have given Jackson a minimum of 15 carries per game this season, their record is 5-1-1. When Jackson isn’t carrying a heavy load, the Rams turn predictable and one-dimensional and defenses can attack Bradford without fear of being exploited. Jackson’s dreadlocks were on fire early Sunday, but the Vikings didn’t cool him down.”
The game turned on St. Louis turnovers and a pair of long runs by Peterson that put the Vikings well in front. St. Louis trailed by 26 before Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks in the second half. The pass to Kendricks was followed by a two-point conversion pass to Amendola that pulled St. Louis within 11 points, but the Vikings answered with a field goal to make it a two-touchdown game and the Rams couldn’t put together another scoring drive.
With the playoff hopes eliminated, the speculation resumed about Steven’s future, and whether Sunday would be the last home game SJ39 plays as a Ram. For an athlete like Steven—who is equal parts toughness and disciplined—the focus remains the same as it has been; to win the remaining football games.
“We had to win and today we did not get it done,” he said. “Now I have to show these guys how to finish strong. These two games, we want to go out and win. They will be tough because they are on the road but you want to build something to go into the offseason to build off of.”
Steven and the Rams close out the season with two road trips.
The first trip takes the Rams to Tampa Bay where they take on the Buccaneers, who were eliminated from the postseason picture in a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CST and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Vikings top Rams in Home Finale (KMOV.com, December 16, 2012)
- Peterson Gets More Yards, Jackson Reaches Major Milestone (KMOV.com, December 16, 2012)
- Rams Again Miss Chance to Please Fans (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 17, 2012)
- Rams’ Unsolved Mysteries (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 17, 2012)
- Jackson’s Last Home Game for Rams? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 15, 2012)