According to many including a guy named Mike on Twitter, Aaron Donald is now officially the greatest defensive player of all time. According the the reply to that tweet from former Los Angeles Ram John Johnson, he’s been that. This we all know for many who have been following football at all, Donald has been a dominant force when compared to all defensive players at any position and shockingly so when compared to only those that play defensive tackle.
However if all you did was watch the final drive of Super Bow 56, you might still come away with the same conclusion. Donald is a force that can take over a game at any point in time but tends to do so in the biggest moments the stakes are at its highest. Consider that slamming the door on the opponent’s final attempt to steal the game in an elimination setting is far from a first for Donald. He did the exact same thing in the NFC Championship game to get the Rams into the Super Bowl in the first place.
But on Sunday, after one of the most intriguing Super Bowls in history given the drastically different builds of the teams and the dramatic journey the Rams have taken in the McVay era, it all came down to the final minute and Donald took over again.
On a third down attempt for the Bengals, Donald posted him man up and stuffed the run to force a fourth down attempt that would determine the game. On that fourth down play, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow took a shotgun snap with Donald lined up over the left guard. Donald used a step and swipe move to blast past his blocker and in a moment was on Burrow, forcing the quarterback to throw a desperate pass while getting tossed to the ground. The pass fell incomplete and the game was won the Rams.
When peeking at a preview of Inside the NFL, Sean McVay calls it and seems to know before the snap that Donald would make the play. What’s more striking than that call was the moment before that when McVay is hyping up Donald telling him that this is the moment, but Donald is apparently already locked in and gives a nod, a killer look of a determined destroyer, to his coach before going in. The rest is history.
And now for today’s links: