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Aaron Donald, Rams Defense Close Out Super Bowl LVI Silencing Bengals Offense in Crunch Time

Aaron Donald and the Rams defense delivered in the big moment, capping off a 23-20 Super Bowl LVI victory.
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With confetti raining down on SoFi Stadium, Aaron Donald spoke to NBC’s Michelle Tafoya with tears of joy raining down his face as the Rams won Super Bowl LVI over the Bengals, 23-20.

“It’s surreal! Look at this man, I feel amazing, man, I feel amazing," Donald said on the field.

Following their celebration, Rams safety Eric Weddle re-announced his retirement from the NFL. Weddle delivered thank yous all around, but specifically defensive coordinator Raheem Morris for bringing him back to the Rams and giving him a chance at a Super Bowl ring.

While players were celebrating that they finally won a championship ring, safety Taylor Rapp pulled out a special one of his own. Rapp proposed to his long-time girlfriend, capping off what will likely be one of the best days of his life.

But, how did they get there? With the game on the line, Donald accomplished on fourth and one what he did all game: pressure quarterback Joe Burrow. Although Donald didn't bring Burrow down for a sack on the final play of Super Bowl LVI, he forced an erratic throw that ended the Bengals' title dreams.

The biggest storyline moving into Super Bowl LVI was the play of the Rams' defensive line against the Bengals' offensive line which had played poorly all season long. The Rams recorded seven sacks in one of the most dominant Super Bowl performances a defense line has had.

Reports entering Sunday's game indicated that depending on the result, the Rams' star defensive tackle could contemplate retirement.

Whether or not Donald is actually thinking about stepping away from the game, he produced two sacks, two tackles for losses and four tackles on the biggest stage, putting the icing on the cake to a future Hall of Fame resume.

When asked about Donald’s performance, Rams coach Sean McVay kept it short and sweet.

"He is the f’ing man," McVay said.

Donald’s NFL resume now includes:

  • 7 straight 1st Team All-Pro selections
  • 3-time Defensive Player of the Year
  • 8-time Pro Bowler
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Super Bowl LVI Champion

If Donald does decide to call it quits, he will walk away a champion and one of the most dominant defense players the league has ever seen. If he doesn’t, the NFL will see a triumphant Donald return just as hungry as ever.

Donald avoided all retirement questions following the game saying,”I'm just living in the moment right now. I’m going to enjoy this with my teammates and my family for a couple days."

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) is interviewed with his wife Erica Donald and children Jaeda, Aaron Jr., and Aaric, after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of Donald, the Rams defense thrived off the attention he created. Von Miller, Leonard Floyd and Ernest Jones combined for the other five sacks on Burrow.

The Bengals committed to stopping Donald, even triple-teaming the defensive tackle on some plays. With the amount of attention Donald received, the Bengals running game suffered, as did the Cincinnati offensive line.

With only 79 rushing yards, the Rams were able to focus mainly on the passing game. Jalen Ramsey moved around in coverage, and the Rams' edge rushers thrived on the expectation of Burrow throwing the ball.

According to Next Gen Stats, the Rams defense generated pressure on 41.5% of snaps, and Donald himself posted a staggering 17.5% pressure rate.

The only struggle for L.A. defensively was the play from Ramsey. While he did make plenty of notable plays, he also allowed multiple big receptions that kept the Bengals in the game. 

While the Rams offense was struggling after the loss of Odell Beckham Jr., Morris’ defensive unit kept the game tight. The Rams held the Bengals scoreless in the last 25 minutes of the game, ensuring that Matthew Stafford had time to relocate his connection with Cooper Kupp that ultimately won Super Bowl LVI for the Rams late in the fourth quarter.

After years of focusing on the defense, McVay and the Rams finally brought the Lombardi Trophy to Los Angeles. It's usually difficult to keep a Super Bowl-winning defense together, but the core pieces the Rams have in place could spell trouble for teams around the league for the seasons ahead.

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