Jackson very well might need to get that mark above .500 on Sunday if the Vikings are going to make the playoffs. The Vikings will enter their regular-season finale tied with the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North.
The Vikings will play host to the New York Giants on Sunday, while the Bears will play at Houston. A Minnesota victory assures the Vikings of the division title even if the Bears also win. But if the Vikings fail to beat the Giants and the Bears are victorious, Minnesota's season is finished.
This means Jackson, who will be making only his fifth start of the 2008 season on Sunday, will be facing the most pressure-packed situation of his career.
The key is that he can't play like that.
Jackson has taken back the starting role because he has managed to dial down the pressure on himself. This wasn't the case when he lost his first two starts against Green Bay and Indianapolis before being benched. Jackson played those two games with the weight of the world on his shoulder.
But since taking over near the end of the first half three games ago when veteran Gus Frerotte was injured, Jackson has thrown seven touchdown passes and has a 126.5 passer rating.
Jackson's touchdown passes are tied for second most among all NFL quarterbacks during that time, behind only the Patriots' Matt Cassell. Jackson's passer rating is second to the Colts' Peyton Manning.
"I'm not playing tentative at all," Jackson said. "I'm just going out there having fun. I know what's going on so everything is slowing down for me a little bit."