PITTSBURGH – Steven Jackson's legs keep on churning. And the St. Louis Rams keep on losing.
The veteran running back — the struggling franchise's lone offensive weapon throughout much of his career — ran for 103 yards in Saturday's 27-0 loss to Pittsburgh to go over 1,000 on the season for the seventh straight year.
It's a remarkable feat, the silver lining in a miserable season. St. Louis (2-13) lost its sixth straight while getting shut out for the second time in 20 days even with Jackson doing everything in his power to keep the Rams competitive.
"Let's face it, the man is a warrior," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "That's one of the weapons we have and we're going to use it as much as we can, knowing we can't run every down."
It might not have been a bad idea.
Kellen Clemens completed just 9 of 24 passes for 91 yards while making his second straight start for the injured Sam Bradford. Clemens didn't turn it over, but he also didn't complete a pass over 17 yards as the league's lowest-scoring offense failed to get the ball inside the Pittsburgh 10.
"There's a few throws that I just should have hit," Clemens said. "You can't leave opportunities on the field against a defense like that, and we did today."
Josh Brown missed a pair of field goal attempts that could have kept things close, and the Rams faded late as the Steelers (11-4) kept their hopes for an AFC North title alive.
"They weren't very giving," Clemens said of Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense. "They were very stingy on defense. ... That really says something about what Jackson was able to do today, going over 100 yards against that defense."
Jackson has been doing it for years on a team struggling to become relevant. A year ago the Rams went 7-9 and appeared to be on the rise. They'll head into the season finale against San Francisco tied with Indianapolis for the league's worst record.
"It's unfortunate that we do these things against a team that's so impressive but come out with the loss," Jackson said. "You play for wins and losses and unfortunately we couldn't come out with the win."
Pittsburgh backup Charlie Batch passed for 208 yards while filling in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a score, and the Steelers bounced back from a 20-3 loss in San Francisco on Monday night in style.
Batch is now 5-2 as a spot starter with the Steelers and could get another shot next week against Cleveland.
"We've won games with (Batch) in the past; if need be, we will games with him in the future," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "We are very comfortable with our depth at the quarterback position."
Resting his badly sprained left ankle, Roethlisberger was active and available in case of emergency. The defense made sure there wasn't one, dominating the Rams to pitch its second shutout of the season.
Clemens, signed less than three weeks ago, was sacked three times and never got into a rhythm.
Batch, making just his seventh start since 2001, had no such issues. He completed 15 of 22 passes, his only hiccup coming on a second-quarter interception on which intended wide receiver Antonio Brown slipped.
While Batch lacks Roethlisberger's big-time arm, he did get the ball downfield on a couple of occasions, including a 46-yard pass to Mike Wallace in the fourth quarter that set up Mendenhall's 1-yard plunge that put Pittsburgh ahead 20-0.
It was more than enough cushion for a defense that looked just fine even without injured outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who continues to nurse a strained right hamstring. James Harrison collected his ninth sack of the season in his return from a one-game suspension for a series of illegal hits.
The Rams tried, at least for a while. Yet each time they appeared ready to make things interesting, they would find a way to let the Steelers off the hook. Spagnuolo opened up the playbook in the second quarter, with punter Donnie Jones pulling the ball down and looking to pass on a fake punt. Pittsburgh covered it well and Jones took off, only to be tackled a yard short of the first down, a frustrating season summed up in one play.
"It was an aggressive call — we got the right look and thought we could get it," Spagnuolo said. "They did a nice job taking it away."
St. Louis put together a steady drive late in the first half but got conservative after moving into Pittsburgh territory, milking the clock so Josh Brown could attempt a 52-yard field goal at a stadium where 22-yarders aren't a given. The ball sailed wide left, and Brown later missed wide right in the fourth quarter with the game still somewhat competitive.
Emphasis on the somewhat.
After Brown's second miss, Pittsburgh put it away with a pair of cruelly efficient touchdown drives.
NOTES: St. Louis DE Chris Long failed to register a sack for just the second time in the last nine games. ... Josh Brown has made 73 percent (19 of 26) of his field goal attempts this season, the second-worst mark of his nine-year career. ... WR Antonio Brown broke former RB Barry Foster's Steelers record for all-purpose yards in a season. Brown has 2,048, ahead of Foster's mark of 2,034 set in 1992.