The Los Angeles Rams picked up their biggest win of the season on Monday night when they defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 30-23. The win not only helps to further secure their spot in the playoffs, but also keeps them alive in the NFC West race, as the Rams are now just one game back of the Cardinals.
Aaron Donald was easily the MVP of the game for the Rams. He completely wrecked the Cardinals’ offensive gameplan, sacking the speedy Kyler Murray three times and deflecting one pass. He could not be blocked when the Rams desperately needed a win.
He was rewarded for that by winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week, his first of the season and the eighth of his career. Donald spoke about his game-changing performance following the win, according to Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“I felt good man,” Donald said. “Definitely had some one-on-one opportunities and took advantage of them.”
Rams head coach Sean McVay saw the Defensive Player of the Week honors coming, as he heavily advocated for it immediately after the game.
“That’s what the best do. They play their best when their best is required,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “We talk about competitive greatness all the time. This guy is the epitome of competitive greatness. Really proud at Aaron, not at all surprised. He’s a special player, special person. You felt his presence from the very first snap and then to the last one. He was outstanding tonight. If he doesn’t win ‘NFC Defensive Player of the Week’, something is wrong.”
Because Donald is not a favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year this season, it would be easy to say that Monday night was the breakout performance in a “down year” for the Rams superstar. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
He is still on pace to finish the season with 13 sacks, which would be his third-highest season total. He’s also on pace to accumulate 27 QB hits, one less than he got last season when he won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Make no mistake, Donald is still among the best — if not the best — defensive players in the league, and he showed exactly why against the Cardinals in primetime.
Rams in COVID protocols
The Rams are forced to work remotely this week as they prepare for a divisional game against the Seattle Seahawks due to a COVID outbreak in their organization. Five players tested positive for COVID prior to their Cardinals win, and another six did so after.