By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, Dec. 28 2004

Three weeks ago, running back Steven Jackson was walking on crutches because of
a swollen ankle the day after the Rams' 16-6 victory over San Francisco.

As was the case against the *****, Jackson couldn't finish Monday night's game
with Philadelphia after banging his knee on the artificial turf at the Edward
Jones Dome. But this time there were no crutches and, apparently, little to no
swelling in Jackson's knee.

An MRI exam Tuesday revealed no structural damage, only a soft tissue bruise.

"He's fine," Martz said. "There's no damage. In fact, there's a significant
healing from the tear."

The tear? Apparently Jackson suffered a slightly torn medial collateral
ligament in his right knee against San Francisco. Such injuries do not require
surgery and basically heal with time.

In any event, Martz expects Jackson to play in Sunday's regular-season finale
against the New York Jets.

"He probably will," Martz said. "I think it was more just aggravating a sore
knee."

Jackson made the last of his 24 carries against Philadelphia with just over 10
minutes to play. Before calling it a night, Jackson rushed for a career-high
148 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' 20-7 victory.

"He was terrific," Martz said. "He looks like a great runner to me. That first
series in there, we were handing the ball off to him and he was running through
them, around them, every which way you can. He's a terrific back, and the
offensive line did a terrific job."

With Jackson getting six carries and Marshall Faulk four, the Rams ran the ball
10 consecutive times on their opening drive. When asked if he could recall a
situation in which he ran the ball that many times in a row, Martz paused and
replied: "No."

He came close Dec. 12 against Carolina, calling nine straight running plays -
all involving Arlen Harris - on a drive that began late in the third quarter.

Before Monday night was over, the Rams had run the ball 44 times for 209 yards
against the Eagles - both season highs. So why such a conviction to run the
ball against Philadelphia?

"Whenever we've had success against Philadelphia, we've run the ball well,"
Martz said. "You start getting into a passing game with them, then they sack
you and create bad plays. Knock your quarterback out. And all that stuff.

"I didn't think we would do that well (running), obviously. But as long as we
kept going - it's just like throwing the ball. If you keep completing it, you
keep throwing it."

A strong running attack helped the Rams win the 2001 season's NFC championship
game over Philadelphia 29-24. In that contest, Faulk carried 31 times for 159
yards and two touchdowns.

Obviously, Jackson's workload Monday was the polar opposite of what transpired
last week in Arizona, when Jackson did not play. Martz has been roundly
criticized for not using Jackson in that contest and then saying he wasn't
aware that Jackson wasn't in the game.

But Martz wouldn't go there Tuesday. When asked if he could understand why
people were alarmed that Jackson didn't play against Arizona, Martz replied:
"First of all, I'm not aware of all that - who's alarmed. Nor do I care, to be
honest with you. Next question."