Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams went to San Francisco expecting a battle, but a 75-minute war without a winner wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.
After five 15-minute periods, the Rams and 49ers couldn’t determine a winner and ended Sunday’s contest gridlocked in a 24-24 tie, the NFL’s first since 2008. Afterward, Steven lamented the first tie he’s experienced in his football career and the missed opportunities that left the Rams short of the win they sought.
“This is the first time I have ever tied in my career and it is a huge letdown,” he said. “Guys put it all on the line today and for us to end in a tie is disappointing.”
The effort of some standout performers, including Steven, kept St Louis in the hunt until the very end. SJax bulldozed his way to 101 yards on the ground and ran for his second touchdown of the year. It was Steven’s first 100-yard game this season, and he became only the third rusher this year to gain over 100 yards against the fearsome San Francisco defense.
You have to love the way Steven Jackson plays football. No matter what the situation, every carry he gives 150%.
— Clayton Reed (@Clayton_Reed) November 12, 2012
In addition to the rushing yards, SJ39 also snagged two passes for 26 yards. With his 127-yard performance Steven moved into second place in Rams franchise history for yards from scrimmage and total yards, surpassing Torry Holt on both lists. SB Nation’s Eric Nagel wrote that the effort on Sunday was vintage SJ39.
“He was unstoppable, which isn’t something many people can say against such a strong 49ers defense. He is still, clearly, the leader of this team.”
Though the 49ers are known as one of the NFL’s best run defenses, the Rams weren’t prepared to give up on their ground game and went into San Francisco ready to run.
“We knew all week that coming in that we were facing a very tough team, with a very stout defense, probably the best defense that we will face. We wanted to be in this position where we could run the ball, control the line of scrimmage, make plays on the outside.”
The game plan worked well for the Rams early as they built a 14-0 first quarter lead with scores on their first two possessions. On St. Louis’ opening drive, they started by feeding San Francisco a steady diet of SJ39. The first four plays were all SJ runs and he reeled off 23 yards and two first downs to bring the Rams into 49ers territory. The fifth play of the drive was a short pass to Danny Amendola, which set up a long pass from Sam Bradford to Brian Quick for a 36-yard touchdown.
After the Rams defense stifled the Niners offense again, St. Louis got the ball back at the seven and started a seven-play 93-yard drive. SJ ran for seven on first down and picked up five more on second before taking a short breather. After a big run by backfield partner Daryl Richardson pushed the Rams across midfield and within striking distance of the red zone, SJ got them there with a two-yard run, then punched it in from seven yards out two plays later, dragging two San Francisco defenders in his wake.
“Steve is Steve. You saw the way he played, the way he ran, the passion that he plays with. Like I’ve said, I enjoy standing on the sideline watching him play. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Steven Jackson is a man among boys out there. #SoBig
— Eli Mendez (@TheeEliMendez) November 12, 2012
SJ39’s 29 carries were the most he’s had in a game all season, as he showed he can still shoulder the load. KMOV’s Scott Bierman wrote that No. 39 has answered the call with his play on the field and his professionalism off it.
“This season, above all others, Jackson has shown he is a true professional. When others would complain about playing time, he has only stated that he is ready for what Jeff Fisher and the coaching staff has planned for him.”
San Francisco struck back for a second quarter touchdown, but the Rams held control of the game at halftime with a 14-7 lead, thanks in large part to 12 carries for 56 yards from SJ39.
Steven Jackson is playing as if this game means a lot more to him than anyone else on the field.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) November 11, 2012
The teams traded punts to open the second half, leaving the Rams with the ball at their own 31 to start their second drive of the half. From there they embarked on the longest drive of the game, using 16 plays to go just 60 yards thanks to penalties. SJ touched the ball six times on the drive, but found tough sledding and could only pick up 17 yards.
Despite getting as far as the San Francisco five-yard-line, the Rams had to settle for a field goal and a 17-7 lead at the end of the third quarter. The 49ers followed with a scoring drive to pull within three. On the ensuing kick, Rams returner Isaiah Pead fumbled, giving the 49ers the ball at the Rams 20 and on the next play the Niners took the lead on a Frank Gore touchdown run.
Following that play, Steven could be seen on the sidelines motivating his teammates and imparting the kind of strong leadership the Rams depend on him for. He urged his teammates to keep their heads up and keep charging ahead.
“We didn’t think that we were going into a cake walk. I just reminded them of that,” he said. “We didn’t need to get down on ourselves but this is exactly the game that we prepared for all week.”
With help from SJ39, the Rams kept their wits about them and embarked on another long drive, spanning 81 yards and draining more than seven minutes off the clock. They broke inside the 10 on a four-yard run by Steven, got to the two on a catch by Amendola and then on first and goal, used play action to get Austin Pettis in the back of the end zone for six. On that touchdown throw, Steven showed his complete skillset, as he put an outstanding block on a blitzing Patrick Willis to free up Bradford for the pass to Pettis.
Great block by Rams RB Steven Jackson!
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) November 12, 2012
Though the Rams left merely 69 seconds on the clock, San Francisco managed to get into field goal range to send the game to overtime. In the extra session, both the 49ers and Rams had opportunities to end the game with field goals, but each kick missed its mark.
Steven picked up yardage in chunks and kept the Rams offense on the move, even in the overtime period. His thirteen yards on the Rams’ second overtime possession set up Greg Zuerlein for what would have been a 58-yard game winning field goal. Unfortunately the kick went wide right and the battle continued until there were only zeroes on the clock.
“I think we are going to think we let one get away from us,” Steven said. “They went to the championship game. They are a very good team, they played a very good game and we did as well and we have to face them again in three weeks.”
@sj39 I had to sleep in my 39 jersey last night, very proud Rams fan, win, lose or draw! Good game man.
— Wesley Eggleston (@djwes21) November 12, 2012
San Francisco won’t be too thrilled about having to face Steven Jackson again. The two teams will get their second chance in St. Louis on December 2. Still that was of little consolation to players on both teams, who were united in their disgust of ending the game in a tie. But some writers and many fans saw glowing signs of progress in how the Rams fared in San Francisco.
I’m so proud of this Rams team today. Especially Steven Jackson
— Johnny Perez (@King_John06) November 12, 2012
While a win against the divisional powerhouse would have been critical, huge strides were made on Sunday and the Rams clearly stated they’re ready to compete through the second half of the season.
“I don’t know if it’s progress but guys are definitely going to learn from this game, especially with this being a young team. They’re going to use this as a reference and when we’re in this position again, we can overcome it.”
The Rams return home this week for their first true home game in nearly a month.
They host the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at Edward Jones Dome. Steven hasn’t played against the Jets since the final game of his rookie year, January 2, 2005, when he accounted for 80 yards on 10 carries and four catches, including a 20-yard touchdown run, in a 32-29 Rams victory in overtime.
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for Noon CST and the game can be seen on FOX.
- Knot Satisfied: Rams tie Niners (StLouisRams.com, November 11, 2012)
- Improbable tie leaves Rams wondering (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 11, 2012)
- Rams blow chances to beat 49ers (Belleville News-Democrat, November 11, 2012) 49ers can’t stop Steven Jackson (SF Gate, November 11, 2012)
- Was this progress? Yes it was (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 11, 2012)
- Rams, 49ers play to NFL’s first tie since 2008 (ESPN, November 11 2012)
- Oh Hey, A Tie (SB Nation, November 12 2012)
- Steven Jackson Disappointed in Rams Tie (SB Nation, November 12 2012)
- Rams Report Card (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 11, 2012)
- Jackson Leads by Example vs. 49ers (KMOV.com, November 12 2012)
- Rams bench Givens, Jenkins for violating team rules (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 11, 2012)