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Aaron Donald sets NFL sack record for defensive tackles

The Pitt product has racked up 19.5 sacks in the 2018 season

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt star and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald set an NFL record on Sunday, as he surpassed the mark for most sacks by a defensive tackle in a season set by Keith Millard of the Minnesota Vikings in 1989. Donald entered his team’s Week 16 matchup with 16.5 sacks on the season, needing 1.5 more to match Millard’s 29-year-old mark of 18 sacks. Instead, Donald got three, setting the new record at 19.5 sacks with one week left in the 2018 season.

Donald also set a Rams franchise record for sacks in a single season, topping teammate Robert Quinn’s 19-sack campaign in 2013. In addition, he placed himself within three sacks of the all-time single-season sack record of 22.5 set by former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001.

The fifth-year veteran discussed his latest accomplishment after his team defeated the Arizona Cardinals 31-9 in their second and final meeting of the season.

”It feels good,” Donald told reporters during a postgame interview. “This is what you work for and grind for is just to go out there, play the game and try to help your team to win it. And in the way of doing that, you just have success. And any time you’re rewarded and can be a part of history, it’s a special moment.”

For Donald, the sack records were just the latest achievements in an already historic career, as he was recently invited to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl and won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017. As a result of his consistent success, his name has been brought up often in this season’s NFL MVP race. However, as of Dec. 12, he was listed as a longshot to win the honor by BetOnline. But considering the last defensive player to be recognized as the league’s MVP was former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986, it’s notable that he’s even in the running.

Donald and the Rams will finish off their regular-season schedule against the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 30.