Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame selection when he is eligible for election. The 30-year-old three-time Defensive Player of the Year and seven-time First
Team All Pro is one of the most decorated players in NFL history. Yet the one honor missing from his resume is Super Bowl champion.
This Sunday Donald and the Rams, representing the NFC, will face the AFC’s Cincinnati Bengals in Southern California on their home field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood in Super Bowl LVI (56). It will be the second time in the last four years that Rams head coach Sean McVay and Donald will have a chance to win the league’s final game of the season. They lost 13-3 to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta to conclude the 2018 campaign.
“This time around, I could honestly say you appreciate it that much more,” said Donald on Monday as per the Rams website. “I didn’t appreciate it the first time, but you get there the first time, you’re kind of thinking you’re going to get back the following year. It don’t work like that. Having an opportunity to battle and find a way to get here, you just appreciate it that much more.”
A native of Pittsburg, Donald was a unanimous All-American in 2013 at his hometown school, the University of Pittsburgh. He has anchored a Rams defense that has one surefire Hall of Famer in linebacker Von Miller and a likely enshrinee in defensive back Jalen Ramsey. But they’ll have to be at peak performance to slow down the Bengals’ potent offense led by quarterback Joe Burrow and his college teammate at LSU, wide receiver Jamar Chase.
The Bengals are on a magical run, having won their last two playoff games on the road, defeating the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the divisional round 19-16 and the No. 2 Kansas Chiefs 27-24 in overtime in the AFC championship game. The Rams dismissed the Arizona Cardinals 34-11, the Tampa Buccaneers 30-27 and the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 on their path to the Super Bowl.
The Rams’ defensive front and the Bengals’ offensive line will be the game’s most consequential battle. The Bengals line allowed Burrow to be sacked nine times versus the Titans, but Tennessee’s offense could not capitalize on the performance of their defense. A similar poor showing versus the Rams will be detrimental as Los Angeles has a multitude of offensive weapons to seize on the opportunities.
And that will be the game’s difference. Donald and company will apply the necessary pressure on Burrow to disrupt the Bengals’ offense just enough to help their team earn a tight 27-24 win.