Final

Rams 41

(8-8, 4-4 away)

Vikings 21

(6-10, 3-5 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 31, 2006

 

1 2 3 4 T
STL 10 14 10 741
MIN 7 0 0 1421

Top Performers

Passing: M. Bulger (STL) - 248 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: S. Jackson (STL) - 25 CAR, 142 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: T. Holt (STL) - 9 REC, 90 YDS

Jackson's four TDs help Rams knock out Vikes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams played like contenders with a promising performance. The Minnesota Vikings still have plenty of work remaining on their reconstruction project.

Jackson had a career-high four touchdowns and 142 yards rushing, helping the Rams finish the year with three straight wins in a 41-21 victory over the Vikings on Sunday.

"Definitely a great way to end the season. We caught stride a little bit too late, but it's something to definitely build off of," said Jackson, who entered the final week 75 yards behind Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson for the league lead in yards from scrimmage.

Minnesota (6-10) and St. Louis (8-8) each qualified for the postseason in 2004 as 8-8 wild-card teams, but their mediocrity was not rewarded this year -- even in the diluted NFC. Problems scoring points and moving the ball marked a season of obvious disappointment for the Vikings, their fans and first-year coach Brad Childress, whose conservative approach to the offense drew increasing criticism throughout the fall.

"It's like remodeling a house when you're in it," Childress said. "It's not comfortable, and the neighbors don't like looking at it with the family room knocked off. ... It's a little bit painful sometimes, a little bit uncomfortable sometimes."

With his team leading 34-7 early in the fourth quarter, Jackson raced up the left sideline for a 59-yard score. That prevented Minnesota from establishing a post-merger (since 1970) NFL record for fewest yards rushing allowed in a season, missing by 15 the mark of 970 yards set by the Ravens in 2000.

Though the Rams were eliminated from the playoff chase at their hotel Saturday night when the Giants beat the Redskins, the challenge of facing the league's best rushing defense gave them incentive -- and they were confident they could succeed.

"I definitely thought so. My offensive line thought so," Jackson said.

The Vikings were mathematically dropped from contention last week in a 9-7 loss to the Packers when they managed only three first downs, leaving rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's first home start as the only real intrigue for the fans.

Minnesota's sellout streak was officially extended to 95 games, but there were plenty of empty seats on a gloomy afternoon of rain and snow. At one point in the first half, the T-shirt gun used by stadium workers to shoot out souvenirs was louder than the crowd, and many customers had exited by the end of the third quarter.

They mostly came to see Jackson -- Tarvaris, that is -- give them some hope for next year, and the rookie showed mixed results. He was intercepted on his second pass by Ron Bartell, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to open the romp.

Bartell picked Jackson off in the second quarter, too, but the kid from Division I-AA Alabama State went 20-for-34 and finished with 213 yards and one touchdown passing plus another rushing score.

"There's a lot of things I have to get better at," he said. "It's a learning experience."

Though Childress declined to give Jackson the starting job for 2007, the coach indicated he's satisfied with what he's got at the position between the second-round draft pick and backup Brooks Bollinger.

"I'm OK with that right now," Childress said.

Brad Johnson, who started 14 games but was benched three times this season, probably will not be back. He received a warm welcome and completed a third-quarter pass when Jackson left briefly for medical attention following a sack. Johnson, ironically, was booed repeatedly just two weeks ago by fans who were frustrated with the offense and eager for Jackson to play.

"We'll have a great discussion this week, I'm sure," Childress said. "I appreciate his professionalism and his being right there for the young guy.

First-year St. Louis coach Scott Linehan returned to the Metrodome, after serving as the offensive coordinator under Mike Tice from 2002-04. It was an up, then down, then up season, but Linehan was pleased with the late momentum.

"Our guys never stopped believing, and that's the thing I'm most proud of," Linehan said.

Pro Bowl-bound Steven Jackson was the show, finishing his third year in the league with an impressive display of power and speed. He finished with 1,528 yards rushing and led all NFL running backs with 806 yards receiving.

"A very dangerous offense to look for next year," Jackson said.

Game notes


Chester Taylor set a Vikings record with 304 carries this year and also became only the fourth Vikings back to reach 1,200 yards in a season. Taylor had 29 yards on 13 attempts, with one touchdown. ... Torry Holt had nine catches for 90 yards for the Rams.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
STL
MIN
1st Downs2317
Passing 1st downs
1510
Rushing 1st downs
86
1st downs from penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
5-126-14
4th down efficiency
1-10-0
Total Plays6761
Total Yards416293
Yards per play6.24.8
Total Drives1213
Passing248211
Comp-Att
19-3121-35
Yards per pass
8.05.4
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-04-14
Rushing16882
Rushing Attempts
3622
Yards per rush
4.73.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-33-3
Penalties4-625-35
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
02
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession31:5428:06

Passing Leaders

STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Bulger19/302488.3100-0
Bruce0/100.0000-0
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Jackson20/342136.3124-14
Johnson1/11212.0000-0

Rushing Leaders

STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson251425.7359
Looker11313.0013
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson7344.918
Taylor12312.6116

Receiving Leaders

STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Holt99010.0018
Bruce46616.5023
MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Moore35719.0050
Taylor55410.8121

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSTLMIN
stlTD13:46Ron Bartell, 38 yd interception return (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 7 yds, 1:22
70
stlFG6:48Jeff Wilkins 42 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 52 yds, 5:13
100
minTD2:10Tarvaris Jackson, 1 yd run (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 64 yds, 4:40
107
SECOND QUARTERSTLMIN
stlTD8:17Steven Jackson, 4 yd run (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 53 yds, 2:25
177
stlTD1:21Steven Jackson, 10 yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 79 yds, 5:04
247
THIRD QUARTERSTLMIN
stlFG12:02Jeff Wilkins 53 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 22 yds, 3:36
277
stlTD4:20Steven Jackson, 2 yd run (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yds, 6:04
347
FOURTH QUARTERSTLMIN
stlTD11:20Steven Jackson, 59 yd run (Jeff Wilkins kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 86 yds, 2:23
417
minTD9:32Chester Taylor, 1 yd run (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 35 yds, 1:41
4114
minTD2:28Travis Taylor, 3 yd pass from Tarvaris Jackson (Ryan Longwell kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 87 yds, 4:38
4121