But things are different this season as St. Louis goes into Sunday’s game at Arizona leading the NFC West with a 5-6 record and with an opportunity to equal the combined win total of the last three years.
“Oh, it’s a lot of fun,” Jackson said. “I was talking to my dad last night, and he said it feels good to play football at this level, having games going into December that really mean something outside of own personal pride. It’s something that I’m looking forward to this next month of football. The games are going to get bigger as the weeks go on, but first things first. You have to win each game for them to get bigger. I think everyone’s looking forward to the challenge.”
Jackson has carried 232 times for 883 yards, an average of 3.8 yards per carry, and three touchdowns despite being the focus of opposing defenses every time he takes the field.
The 27-year-old running back is fourth in the NFC in rushing yardage — behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Atlanta’s Michael Turner and Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants — and 10th in the NFL and is closing in on his sixth straight 1,000-yard rushing season.
“I’m a little off pace of where I want to be personally,” Jackson said, “but I’m very proud of that and 1,000-yard seasons, no matter how they come, are very impressive. I want to continue to do the city proud as well as the running game.”
Jackson played through a groin injury earlier in the season and has dealt with a broken finger on his left hand for the last several weeks, but he said he feels better now physically than he has in a while.
“This is the freshest I have felt in about three seasons,” he said. “Last year was just misery, and the other two, I had some banged-up issues where, I remember 2008 going into Atlanta, we were fighting for 1,000 yards. So this is the freshest I’ve felt in a long time in the month of December.”