A finger injury -- repaired by surgery just six days prior -- couldn't keep Steven Jackson out of the starting lineup for the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon.
It also couldn't keep Steven from paying tribute to one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and one of his heroes.
Steven blows through a hole in the Carolina defense (courtesy St. Louis Post Dispatch).
Before the Rams' 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, S-Jax used the Halloween holiday as an excuse to don a pair of goggles, a look made famous by Hall-of-Fame running back Eric Dickerson. Steven passed Dickerson for the top spot on the team's all-time rushing list and felt the need to pay tribute in a unique way.
"I just wanted to pay respect to him," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I have been exchanging text messages for a while with Eric Dickerson, and in one last week, I told him it was an honor just to be in a position to break his record. And, two, that I will never think that I will replace him in this franchise, and that I will continue to run hard and continue to make him proud.
"I think this organization has had a great run at running back, and I will continue to run hard. Hopefully, the next guy who replaces me will have the same respect."
Any running back would have been proud of No. 39's performance on Sunday and not because he put up monster numbers, but because he showed the heart to play through pain and help his team get a victory.
SJ39 rushed 23 times for 59 yards, but his presence alone allowed St. Louis to open up the passing game for one of rookie Sam Bradford's best games of the year.
Bradford completed 25-of-32 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, but Brandon Gibson, who was on the receiving end of six of those catches gave S-Jax some of the credit.
"Jack is a little banged up, but we know that at the end of the day, they're going to stack the box and it's going to be one-on-one" for the wideouts, Gibson told the Post-Dispatch. "For us to make plays, that's what's going to carry this team and help put points on the board."
For his part, Steven worked through the injury to the best of his ability. Down to basically one good hand, he still carried 23 times without fumbling. SJ39 even made a one-handed catch with his good hand to pick up four yards on a Bradford screen.
"There was a little bit of discomfort, and I had to be very conscious of it at times, especially in the pile,” Steven told the Belleville News-Democrat. "I thought they would be raking at the ball a little more than they did. I kind of got away with one today.''
No. 39's Rams teammates understood what it took for him to be out there.
"You can't say enough about his toughness," defensive end Chris Long told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
And on a day when the Rams pulled back to .500 and retired the jersey of one of their All-Time Greats in Isaac Bruce, Steven's contributions didn't go unnoticed, as VanRam of Turf Show Times wrote:
Playing hurt and limited in the run game, Jackson still made a difference when the Rams needed him to. If there's anyone on this team that embodies the spirit of Isaac Bruce, it's Jackson.
The Rams get their bye this week and Steven will have a chance to get healthy before a big divisional showdown with the 49ers in San Francisco on November 14.
The Rams (4-4) currently sit just a half game out of first in the division behind the Seattle Seahawks (4-3). Kickoff between the Rams and 49ers is scheduled for 3:15 CST and the game can be seen on FOX.