The San Francisco 49ers stopped Steven Jackson on the ground on Sunday, but the St. Louis Rams made it clear that he's at the center of their offense when they went back to him through the air.
The St. Louis Rams went back to Steven Jackson through the good times of the last three weeks—when their all-time leading rusher, left for dead, crossed 100 yards twice and averaged nearly five yards per carry—but it was the way they continued feeding him the ball despite the San Francisco 49ers successfully stuffing the run game that proved Jackson was back at the center of the Rams' offense, where he's been most of his career.
Because when running the ball didn't work, the Rams didn't try Daryl Richardson or stuff the field with wide receivers—they passed the ball to Steven Jackson. After 11 games in which he'd caught all of 16 passes for 129 yards, Jackson caught five for 69 yards on Sunday, and most of them were crucial plays. Free behind the 49ers' bruising first line of defense, Jackson ran with the same speed and abandon we saw last week against the Cardinals—he just did it on forward passes.
The 21 carries for 48 yards were rough, but neither Jackson nor the Rams were deterred. After a tentative season, it looks like Brian Schottenheimer and company finally have something they feel confident about.