The NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons came into the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday and Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams gave Atlanta all they could handle.
After one, St. Louis had a 7-3 lead and on the first drive after halftime, the Rams pulled ahead 17-16. But Atlanta scored the final 18 points of the game to pick up a 34-17 win over the Rams, their league best eighth victory of the season.
Steven battles a pair of Falcons' defenders (courtesy St. Louis Post Dispatch).
Steven finished the game with just under five yards per carry as, despite rushing only 11 times, he gained 54 yards. He also caught three passes in the loss. But prolonged Atlanta drives dominated the time of possession as the Falcons held the ball for nearly 36 minutes, never allowing the Rams to find a decent pace for themselves.
"We need to be able to stay in a rhythm more," SJ39 told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We need to stay on the field to help our defense out, and help Sam. Sam is doing a good job, particularly when running the hurry-up offense."
On the day, Bradford completed 27 of his 42 passes and threw for a pair of scores as the Rams implemented a somewhat balanced attack early. But after the St. Louis fell behind 23-17 in the third, Steven received just two more carries for the rest of the day.
"I like to be in the flow of the game, I like to touch the ball on each and every drive,'' said Jackson, who had 11 carries for 54 yards in the game. "When they keep you on the sideline for so long, when the time of possession is like that, it makes it very hard to get into a rhythm."
Three of Steven's carries went for ten or more yards, including a 16-yarder to open up the Rams first drive of the second half, setting the stage for Bradford's 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson.
But St. Louis couldn't keep up with the Falcons on the scoreboard in the second half, as the visiting team found their wings.
"Typically, we're a very tough team at home,'' Rams running back Steven Jackson said. "We were in the game all the way to the last three or four minutes. Atlanta is a very good team, and first you have to acknowledge that. When we made mistakes, they capitalized on it."
TEAMMATES GET IT
It's easy to forget at this point that Steven is still running out on the field week after week, at well less than 100 percent.
After all, S-Jax doesn't make a big deal out of it and has no qualms playing through pain.
But the teammates that see No. 39 work everyday have a different type of appreciation for his guts.
"What he's doing is so amazing,'' St. Louis rookie tackle Rodger Saffold told Sports Illustrated. "It just makes us all want to block that much harder. No matter what happens to him, he keeps on running. That's the kind of leader you need.''
The pins in Steven's finger were originally scheduled to be removed with a few weeks left in the season, but will now be left in for the remainder of the year, as S-Jax told the Post-Dispatch:
"The bone is still maybe a little weak, (and) the pins are adding the support that's allowing me to catch the ball and do some of the things that I'm doing on the field," Jackson said. "So they think it's just safe and best that if it's not bothering me, to leave it in until after the season...But the bone is healing well. I got another X-ray and all looks good there."
While they fight for a playoff spot in the wide-open NFC West, the Rams are happy to have S-Jax on their side, their very own Energizer.
"Nothing ever stops him - he just keeps on going,'' wide receiver Danny Amendola said.
The Rams head out on the road, seeking their first win away from the Dome this season when they take on the Broncos in Denver this Sunday. It's the first of three straight games St. Louis plays away from home.
Despite a tough two-game losing streak, the Rams sit just one game out of first in the NFC West with six games remaining.
"We have a very tough three-game road stretch coming up, starting off with Denver,'' Steven told the Belleville News-Democrat. "We need to continue to try to execute the details of the game. As an offense, we need to try to say in a rhythm more. Stay on the field longer, and help our defense out."
Sunday's kickoff is scheduled for 3:15 CST and the game can be seen regionally on FOX.