For Steven Jackson, everything about Sunday afternoon was fitting. With 1:47 left in the third quarter, and with his team trailing Minnesota 33-7, Jackson took a delayed first-down handoff and went for nine yards up the middle. With those nine, Jackson’s career total was 10,002 — a plateau reached by only 26 others. The crowd in St. Louis rose to its feet, gave a short ovation, and then watched as an incomplete pass and Jackson getting hit in the backfield made it fourth down. As Adrian Peterson’s continuing pursuit of history was cause for celebration, Jackson’s came and went without much notice.
Each of Jackson’s 10,000 yards has been gained while he was a member of the St. Louis Rams, and it’s that part of it that makes his accomplishment even more impressive than it already is. There have been plenty of NFL players whose talent has been squandered on bad teams in the past decade, but Jackson deserves to be near the top of the list.
In Jackson's seven years as the Rams’ starting running back, St. Louis has tallied 23 wins, roughly 3.3 wins per season. Over the same span, the Rams have been outscored by more than 1,000 points. Since 2007, the highest finish for a St. Louis offense in total yards is 22nd. In total points, it’s 24th. For the majority of Jackson’s career, St. Louis has defined awful in the NFL, and the question as Jackson nears 30 and his career enters its twilight is just how good he might have been.