The Los Angeles Rams traveled east and earned a 27-24 win against the Indianapolis Colts to start the season 2-0. The premier match up in the trenches belonged to three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald against All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson of the Colts.
Who won the heavyweight fight?
Nelson and the Colts offensive line were able to drive the LA defense down the field on the opening drive, leading to a first-and-Goal from the one yard line. Aaron Donald made plays on both first and second down. He beat Nelson clean, stopping running back Jonathan Taylor for no gain. The Rams defensive front finished the possession with a fourth-and-Goal sack by Leonard Floyd.
Rams make the stop on fourth and goal - Leonard Floyd comes busting loose for the sack on Wentz.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 19, 2021
Donald continued to make his presence felt, getting a good shot on Wentz on third-and-14. Unfortunately, the former North Dakota State Bison QB was able to complete a 42-yard desperation pass to Michael Pittman. Full disclosure, Donald did not line up against Nelson on the play.
Take a hit to make the play.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 19, 2021
The Colts continued the mandatory league-wide trend of trying to get the ball out quickly against LA to avoid their pass rush, but thankfully Wentz and Nyheim Hines could not connect on a short pass on third down, leading to a 48-yard field goal.
On Indianapolis’ third drive, AD and Nelson met again, with Donald getting the better of the match up, stopping Taylor for a two yard gain, with help from Sebastian Joseph-Day. Later in the possession, linebacker Troy Reeder got the interception on the shovel pass. This was due to immediate pressure from Donald who split the right tackle and right guard, cutoff the tight end who was the intended target.
Better be careful where you leave your tools shovel pass is intercepted by Troy Reeder!!!pic.twitter.com/yx7RW72Qf6— LA Rams Nation (@RamsNationCP) September 19, 2021
Donald later beat Nelson again for another pressure, forcing Wentz to roll out and throw the ball away, early in the Colts fourth and final drive of the first half. He later escaped the pass rush and scrambled for a first down. The Colts starting quarterback was Houdini-like, eluding multiple near sacks, including one from Floyd.
The Rams defense opened up the second half with Donald getting a strong run stuff, leading to a three and out. Unfortunately, AD could not do much on the following drive, as the Wentz was able to continue making should be sacks turn into misses, eventually scoring a touchdown and a two point conversion.
Though he did not get a sack, Donald saved his best for the fourth quarter. While lined up against the Pro Bowl guard, Donald continued forcing running plays to bounce outside by creating consistent penetration. AD later switched to the right side of the offensive line and got good pressure on a late third down, wrapping up Wentz, who tossed the ball away.
While he didn’t get a sack on the play, the Pro Bowl defensive lineman did knock Wentz out of the game, forcing backup quarterback Jacob Eason to finish the game, who completed 2 of 5 passes for 15 yards, including an interception to Jalen Ramsey with just over two minutes left in the game.
In fairness to Nelson, the majority Donald’s splash plays came while AD lined up elsewhere.
Aaron Donald vs Quenton Nelson: Who won?
AD got the better of the match up, keeping the Colts running backs to 3.5 yards per carry and generating consistent pressure. Up next, a potential NFC Championship preview against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that will also be exceptionally difficult to generate pressure against for most teams.
Who do you think won between Donald and Nelson?