Jackson Grinds It Out

Posted Dec 5, 2010

GLENDALE, Ariz. – For the better part of the past few weeks, Rams running back Steven Jackson has been searching for the openings that would allow him to make a big play or two.

And each week, like clockwork, there would be an extra defender or two up in the box with the sole intent of stopping or at least slowing Jackson down.

Finally, in the Rams’ 19-6 win against Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, Jackson found a little daylight and sprinted right into it.

When all was said and done, it was another blue collar, workmanlike effort from Jackson as he posted 102 yards on 28 carries with a 27-yard touchdown serving as the biggest of the runs.

On a day when offense was hard to come by for both teams, it was Jackson who grinded it out and helped his side do enough to get a win.

“That was huge,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “Jack played awesome today. He really carried our offense. At times we were struggling to get things going in the pass game but it seemed like every time we handed him the ball he was getting positive yards for us. I really think one of the biggest plays of the game was his touchdown run. He made a great run. To get that touchdown was big at that point in the game.”

For Jackson, the day held plenty of meaning. As one of the most tenured veterans on the team, he’s been a part of a lot of losses, particularly at the hands of the Cardinals.

So it was no surprise that in the immediate aftermath of the victory, Jackson was one of the most excited players in the locker room. Upon entering the locker room, Jackson let out a primal scream of excitement.

 “Well you know, it has been a long time for me, it’s a tough physical defense,” Jackson said. “It’s a defense that I have a great deal of respect for. They always seem to get the best of us. For the offensive line especially to respond to the challenge, it’s huge, it’s huge today.”

That Jackson was able to hit the century mark not only speaks to his and the offensive line’s hard work but also the commitment to the running game in general. Jackson carried 29 times last week against Denver and got 28 more carries Sunday.

And for every team that stays devoted to stopping him, there are still going to be opportunities that present themselves for big runs when Jackson hits the second level as evidenced by his touchdown and a 22-yard scamper in the first quarter that Jackson nearly took all the way.

“I mean a hundred yards is tough to get in this league and it doesn’t matter who you get it against,” Jackson said. “I’m just happy that we’re staying committed to the run these past two weeks.”

On Sunday, that commitment was rewarded.

DAHL’S DAY: Rams safety Craig Dahl is one of the lesser known members of the Rams defense but he certainly stood out in Sunday’s win.

In unofficial pressbox statistics, Dahl had seven tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and a pass defended. Most of that production came after Dahl was dinged early in the game and returned to the field.

“I thought Craig played really well,” Spagnuolo said. “He got dinged in there too and went back in there.”

Making the day more special for Dahl was the fact that the interception was the very first of his career. It killed an early Arizona drive and snuffed out one of the Cardinals best scoring chances.

To finally get that first one out of the way was big for Dahl, who has been waiting almost four full seasons to get his first pick.

“It feels like a relief now,” Dahl said. “They say they come in bunches so hopefully I can get some more.”

Of course, with the ball hanging in the air, Dahl couldn’t help but have time to think it through before making the play.

“It felt great,” Dahl said. “Once I knew the ball was up in the air, I had an opportunity to make a play on it and I just kept thinking don’t drop it, don’t drop it, don’t drop it.”

BROWN BOUNCES BACK: By his own admission, the past week has been a difficult one for kicker Josh Brown.

After missing a couple of kicks in Denver, Brown said he struggled in practice all week when kicking from the right hashmark.

So when he arrived at the stadium on Sunday, Brown made it a point to work on kicking from that right hash in pre game all the while hoping he wouldn’t have to attempt any kicks from that side.

Sure enough, Brown ended up having a busy day with all of his kick attempts coming from – you guessed it – the right hash.

With that thought bouncing around in his mind, Brown also found himself concerned with Arizona’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie coming off the edge to block his attempts.

“We had a very difficult week from that right hash and lo and behold every field goal we get is on the right hash,” Brown said. “I picked out some spots behind the uprights to really focus on and tried to get Cromartie off my mind.”

Whatever Brown did paid dividends as he came through time and again in providing the Rams all of their points in the first half and finishing the day with four field goals, including a 52-yard bomb to open the second quarter.

“We were really successful today and the operation worked perfectly,” Brown said. “We held those guys off just long enough. We had a close call in there. So this was a big win for us.”

INJURY REPORT: The Rams entered Sunday’s game about as healthy as can be for a team in December. But, like usual, they suffered some bumps and bruises along the way that could change some personnel in the coming weeks.

But even through those injuries, to a man the Rams showed the resolve needed to get back on the field when possible.

“At this time of the year, guys are going to get bumped and bruised in the course of the game and for them to go right back in there I think that says a lot about this team,” Spagnuolo said.

Of particular concern on the injury front are ailments belonging to linebacker Na’il Diggs, who injured his shoulder late in the game, and linebacker Chris Chamberlain, who injured his hand early in the game.

The severity of Diggs’ injury is unknown at this point but Spagnuolo was cautious about it after the game saying that it “might be a little while” before Diggs can return.

Chamberlain injured his hand but returned to the game and played through it though he’s likely to have it looked at closer when the team gets back to St. Louis.

“It’s his right hand, (and a) little bit of concern there,” Spagnuolo said. “But in Chris’ nature he went right back in there.”

Cornerback Ron Bartell re-injured his left shoulder, attempted to return to the game and came back out. His status won’t be known until he’s evaluated further in St. Louis.

Tackle Jason Smith suffered an ankle injury but returned to the game after missing just a couple of snaps.

Tight end Billy Bajema injured his knee early in the game and returned to action a bit later. He says he didn’t expect to have to have an MRI on the knee.

Running back Kenneth Darby bruised his ribs late in the game but is expected to be OK.