In his first game back after being sidelined since Week 2 with a hamstring injury, Steven Jackson did his best impersonation of former running back Michael Turner, which meant doom for the Atlanta Falcons running game.
Winning only their second game of the year one week ago, the Falcons were hoping that they could string a mini winning streak, especially with Jackson rejoining the team to help a running game that has been non-existent. Instead of the Falcons ground game receiving an injection of life, they received the injection of “Immobility” … literally.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, Jackson ended his day with a stat line of 11 carries for six yards, which was just a tad better than Lamar Miller‘s embarrassing output of 10 carries for three yards against the Cleveland Browns back in Week 1. To make matters worse, not only was the Falcons ground game completely dead, but the Falcons lost 27-13, which most likely ended any hopes of making the playoffs in 2013.
In a game where people saw quarterback Matt Ryan attempt a staggering 61 passes, when the Falcons needed Jackson to make an impact, he came up with nothing and produced one of, if not the worst, statistical game of his career.
Throughout the season, the Falcons’ offensive line has been a mess, as the Cardinals defense repeatedly hit Ryan and stuffed the run all together. With that being said however, Jackson is a Pro Bowl running back, and for him to have a game like this was absolutely humiliating.
As a team, the Falcons rushed for a combined 27 yards with an average of 1.9 yards per carry. Thanks to Ryan’s 13-yard gain on one rushing attempt, he saved the Falcons from beating their previous low of 18 yards on 18 attempts.
With that type of performance, the Falcons now rank dead last in rushing by averaging 62.4 yards per game.
Now Jackson is a proven back that is capable of turning around a game with his impact, but against the Cardinals, the Falcons may have rushed him back too soon. The only thing Jackson and the Falcons can do is move forward and hope for better days.
In a game where a win was crucial to the Falcons’ hopes of turning around their season, Jackson failed to help them in an area that has plagued this team since his absence. Nobody expected Jackson to turn back time and be the runner he used to be, but this was a blindside hit that nobody saw coming.
Jackson is continuously running into a brick wall every time he rushed the ball. It was a mirror reflection of what the Falcons’ season has been like seven games in. Just like Jackson, the Falcons are being pushed back and the Cardinals may have stuffed not only their running game, but their season as well.