Just two weeks into the 2012 season, resiliency is becoming a staple of the new-look St. Louis Rams.
The Rams picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, a 31-28 come from behind win over the Washington Redskins to move to 1-1 on the season and they did so by bouncing back from some early miscues to take control of the game in the late stages, just as they did last week. And for the second straight week, the Rams put a fourth quarter score on the board to take the lead. Only this time, their defense held steady to secure the win they couldn’t last week.
After Sunday’s big victory, Steven Jackson said he believes the difference in his team’s resolve comes from the top.
“It’s a completely different swagger. It’s amazing. I know it’s only Week 2 and we’re 1-1, but it’s a whole different atmosphere. I can’t thank Coach Fisher enough for what he has done and what he’s doing with us,” Steven said. “Today just showed that we don’t have to play a perfect game. We can make mistakes and still find the resolve to come back and win the game.”
Despite exiting with a groin injury in the second quarter, SJ39 had a productive day. He rushed for 58 yards on nine carries and helped the offense move the ball after falling behind 14-3 early. In fact, on his last carry of the game, Steven appeared to cross the goal line for a one-yard touchdown on third and goal.
No. 39 was so sure that he had crossed the line for his first TD of the season — and on replay it looked very much like he did get across — that he got up and spiked the football. Instead the side judge ruled him down by contact at the one and penalized him a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct for the spike.
“I spiked the ball thinking it was a touchdown. I should have rolled the dice,” said Jackson, who in the past has honored his hometown of Las Vegas by pretending to roll dice after scoring a touchdown. “I learned a lesson there.”
On fourth and goal from the 16, St. Louis settled for a 33-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein to pull within one score at 14-6. However, just four plays into their next drive, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III connected with receiver Leonard Hankerson for a 68-yard touchdown to put the Rams behind 21-6.
But St. Louis was undeterred. They struck right back for a touchdown on their next drive to pull within eight and, after a big stop on defense, added another field goal on their final possession of the half to go into halftime down by just five, 21-16.
Steven missed out on those two drives, and was reevaluated in the locker room at halftime, when he was diagnosed with a strained groin. Coach Jeff Fisher opted to be cautious with the injury and hold his lead runner back.
“His groin was real tight, and it just didn’t make sense, we just didn’t want to subject him to it,” Fisher said. “I don’t think he would have been 100 percent going back in the game, and we have two other quality backs, as you can see, who can make plays for us.”
S-Jax said that the injury nagged him throughout the drive that ended in what he thought was a touchdown, then tightened up as he waited to get back on the field.
“I felt I was going to be able to come back and play. But as I was standing on the sidelines, it started to bother me more and more,” he said. “We were just real cautious with it and made sure we didn’t make it any worse than what it is. I believe it’s going to be something that I can bounce back from fairly fast.”
No. 39 mentioned that had it come down to it, he would have come back into the game, which is why he kept his jersey on after halftime. But his backup — rookie running back Daryl Richardson — performed so well that it alleviated any concerns that SJ and the coaches had with resting him.
“I think what really made me and the coaching staff so comfortable is the way Daryl ran,” Steven said. “He did such a good job of replacing me and keeping up the tempo with the running game.”
With Richardson in at tailback, the Rams took the lead early in the second half on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Brandon Gibson. Washington answered with an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to retake the lead, 28-23, but St. Louis refused to give in.
After the teams traded turnovers — a Bradford interception and a Redskins punt blocked by the Rams — St. Louis started the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to Matt Mulligan to take a 29-28 lead. Richardson followed by busting in for the two-point conversion to give the Rams a three-point edge. Steven admitted that being on the sidelines while his team fought for the win was frustrating, but it also showed him something.
“It was frustrating as a competitor, not being able to help my team, especially in that four-minute offense, that’s the time I love,” he said. “But today, I did realize that I don’t have to do everything and that’s such a relief. This team is special and I’m enjoying it. I’m going home with a smile and I’m going to work just as hard to get back for Chicago.”
From there it was on the St. Louis defense to stop Washington’s offense and the rookie phenom Griffin, who was picked with the draft choice the Rams traded to the Redskins this spring.
The Rams defense stopped Washington on four different drives in the fourth quarter, the last ending when a 62-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 to go that would’ve tied the game missed wide to give the Rams the ball. They kneeled on it twice to secure their first win of the season.
“I’m just happy we pulled off the win. We fought through some adversity and guys, as a team, we were able to overcome some things,” Steven said. “This game was won by all three phases. From the punt blocks, to the defense doing a great job against their offense and Sam. Sam played lights out tonight.”
The Rams head back out on the road again next weekend, travelling north and east to Chicago to take on the Bears at Soldier Field.
Steven last played against the Bears on December 6, 2009 at Soldier Field, when he carried for 112 yards on 28 carries in a 17-9 Rams loss.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CDT and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Rams won’t be denied in comeback win (StLouisRams.com, September 16, 2012)
- Resiliency pays off for Rams (Belleville News-Democrat, September 17, 2012)
- Rams overcame many obstacles to beat Skins (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2012)
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, September 16, 2012)
- Richardson gives Rams change of pace (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2012)
- Amendola Answers Adversity (StLouisRams.com, September 16, 2012)
- Rams rally in 2nd half without Jackson (Associated Press, September 16, 2012)
- Rams follow Fisher’s lead (StLouisRams.com, September 17, 2012)
- Rams Jackson, Saffold Banged Up (SB Nation St. Louis, September 17, 2012)
- Steven Jackson Injury: Running Back Had Groin Strain (SB Nation St. Louis, September 17, 2012)
- St. Louis Rams Get First Win Of The Jeff Fisher Era (Ramblin’ Fan, September 16, 2012)
- Winners And Losers From The St. Louis Rams Victory (Ramblin’ Fan, September 17, 2012)
- Rams Report Card: Straight A’s for offense (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2012)
- Bernie: ‘Same old Rams’ would have lost (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 17, 2012)
- Steven Jackson Injury: Groin No Problem For Rams RB (Turf Show Times, September 18, 2012)