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Pitt in the Pros

Aaron Donald Helps Propel Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl

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With a former Pitt star in Tyler Boyd having already secured a berth in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in two weeks, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers met in the NFC Championship to determine which other Pitt star would join Boyd.

Aaron Donald’s Rams and K’Waun Williams’ 49ers met in the NFC Championship, and the Rams overcame a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to win 20-17 and advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

 

With a 20-17 tie late in the fourth quarter, Donald made his biggest impact of the night in forcing 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to flip the ball wildly in desperation to avoid a sack — right into the waiting arms of Travin Howard.

The game-sealing interception came not too long after Donald gave the Rams’ defense an inspired speech to begin the fourth quarter, setting the tone for the comeback.

With just three tackles on the stat sheet, Donald’s numbers don’t pop off the page in the win, but when it mattered most, he stepped up and delivered.

A Penn Hills graduate, Donald arrived at Pitt as the hometown kid and turned himself into an impact player during his college career.

Donald put together one of the best defensive seasons in not just Pitt, but college football history. His 28.5 tackles for loss in 2013, along with 59 tackles (43 solo), 11 sacks, four forced and three passes defended, rank among the most ever.

As the 13th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Donald has turned into one of the best defensive players in NFL history. With three Defensive Player of the Year awards under his belt before 30, there’s not a more impactful defender in football.

Donald racked up 84 tackles (38 solo), 19 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, forced four fumbles and defended four passes in the regular season, despite constant double and triple teams from opposing offenses.

In eight seasons, Donald has recorded 441 tackles (285 solo), 150 tackles for loss, 98 sacks, 23 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and defended 16 passes.

With a meeting against Boyd in the Super Bowl, the Rams and Bengals will meet in Super Bowl LVI on February 13. A former Pitt star is guaranteed to emerge as a Super Bowl champion.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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