Jackson to face stingy run defense

Friday, October 9, 2009
Rams running back Steven Jackson walks off the field after Sunday's loss in San Francisco. (MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Steven Jackson already is a marked man in the St. Louis Rams' offense. Now he gets to face a Minnesota Vikings defense that hasn't allowed a player to rush for 100 yards in 27 games.

The Vikings (4-0) last gave up 100 yards Nov. 11, 2007, when Green Bay's Ryan Grant had 102. They are allowing just 89.5 yards a game this season.

Jackson takes that as a challenge as he leads the winless Rams (0-4) in trying to snap their 14-game losing streak that is the longest in the NFL. The Rams have won just five of their last 32 games.

"It all boils down to execution," Jackson said Thursday. "We have to make sure the plays we run are effective."

Jackson has been able to run against the Vikings in the past. In Minnesota's last 52 games, only one back besides Grant has topped the 100-yard mark against the Vikings. That would be Jackson, who has two 100-yard games this season.

"I'm pretty sure they are well aware that they have a challenge to stop me," Jackson said.

The last time Jackson faced the Vikings, he gained 142 yards. Jackson scored all four offensive touchdowns, including one receiving, when visiting St. Louis topped Minnesota 41-21 in the 2006 season finale Dec. 31.

"I know we had a great game then," Jackson said. "I hope to have the same outcome and more importantly, a win."

That was then. Minnesota arrives in St. Louis with one of the best defensive lines in football. Minnesota boasts three Pro Bowlers in end Jared Allen and tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.

With that strong play up front, the Vikings have led the NFL in rushing defense in each of the last three seasons. They are the only team to accomplish that feat since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Minnesota ranks No. 11 in total defense, allowing 300 yards a game, this season.

Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has to figure out how to get his unit to be productive. The Rams offense ranks last in scoring with just 24 points this season. St. Louis ranks No. 30 in total offense.

"I've seen what happens when we do things right and we're consistent," Shurmur said. "I think that's what we're preaching to the players. It's very difficult to win in the NFL, and once you've popped the first one, the players start to build on that."

That said, the Rams will be facing the best defense they've seen this season.

"Their front seven is very, very dominant in some areas," Shurmur said. "They have two inside defensive tackles and a great pass rush on the edges. Their linebacking corps is solid, not to mention their secondary. So all around, they're an excellent defense. We'll have to play our 'A' game to get into the end zone."

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole was asked about facing Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and All Pro running back Adrian Peterson: "I'm hoping one of those guys misses the team charter."

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