Former Pitt star and current Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald capped off his third All-Pro season in as many years on Saturday and made the first playoff appearance of his NFL career in the process.
Donald was named to the 2017 All-Pro team on Friday, and he was nearly a unanimous selection, as he pulled in 49 out of a possible 50 votes, according to Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. The Rams led the NFL in All-Pro selections in 2017 with six, but Donald was the team’s only defensive representative.
However, despite fielding a team stacked with the some of the top talent in the league on offense and special teams, the Rams fell to the Atlanta Falcons in a 26-13 loss in the NFC Wild Card Game, and it was due largely to their inability to put points on the board.
For his part, Donald looked dominant on Saturday. As Pro Football Focus noted, he recorded 10 hurries and two run stops. He also finished the day with 0.5 sacks and five tackles, including one for a loss, playing a vital role in a Rams defense that held the Falcons to 26 points, a total that should have been surmountable for an offense that averaged just under 30 points in 2017.
Donald’s playoff performance was in line with what he’s done all year, as he finished the regular season having matched his career-best 11 sacks and having forced a career-high five fumbles despite not playing a full season for the first time in his career. He also defended a pass, added 41 tackles and led all NFL defenders with 91 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus.
And while Donald’s season ended with a disappointing postseason loss, he’s a key component of a young team that should be in contention for the playoffs and more in the coming years.