Of Steven Jackson’s 10,002 career yards rushing, 6,024 have come in losses.
It’s only fitting, then, that Jackson would surpass the 10,000-yard milestone during a 36-22 loss to the Minnesota Vikings that all-but-ended his team’s postseason chances in 2012.
“Missed opportunities,” Jackson said of the game. “We all made mistakes and one of those things where it’s not one person. We have just been unable to just play as a team in all three phases.”
Despite Jackson’s achievement, the Rams dropped to 6-7-1, leaving them still mathematically alive but with only the most outside of chances.
It was a loss, as Jackson noted, defined by big plays in all three phases of the game. The Rams entered the game knowing the gameplan was to try to stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and they succeeded in the first quarter, limiting Peterson to just eight yards on eight carries.
They weren’t so successful in the ensuing three quarters. Peterson gouged the Rams defense for 204 yards on the following 16 carries, including rushes of 82 and 52 yards. The Rams were just the latest victim in Peterson’s pursuit of history.
“He’s really good,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “You can never relax. Every time he touches the ball he’s got a chance to go. We played a lot of good, solid defensive snaps, but we had two that were not good.”
Compounding the defense’s struggles was an offense that allowed as many points as it scored in the first half. After a fumbled snap led to a Blair Walsh field goal that made the score 17-7 – one of Walsh’s five on the game, including three from over 50 yards – quarterback Sam Bradford was intercepted by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen for a 29-yard touchdown. Two more Walsh field goals made the score 30-7 at half.
The Rams attempted to make it a game in the second half, but after two fourth quarter touchdowns cut the score to 36-22 their late drive stalled on the Vikings 12-yard line and the visitors were able to run out the remaining clock.
The team’s poor play overshadowed Jackson’s big milestone. Jackson had a few big runs early in the game, but after the Rams fell behind there was some doubt as to whether he’d get the chance to reach the 10,000 yard barrier. Eventually Jackson reached the mark with a nine-yard rush in the third quarter, the last rushing yard he would gain on the day.
“That’s a heck of an achievement,” Bradford said. “It would’ve been really nice for us to get that with a win just to make it that much sweeter for him. But even a loss doesn’t take away from that. His career, what he’s been able to do, it’s remarkable.”
Arguably more remarkable is the fact that, despite having over 10,000 rushing yards in his nine-year career, Jackson has just 68 yards in the postseason. Those 68 yards came in 2004, Jackson’s rookie year. It was the last time Jackson saw the playoffs.
With two weeks left in the season, the 29-year old back has two more games to add to his career total. Unfortunately for Jackson and the Rams, the postseason total will remain unchanged for another year.