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Our House, Our Stories: Aaron Donald cementing his legacy
Looking back on the dominant stretch of performances Aaron Donald authored to become a long-awaited Super Bowl champion. 
By Stu Jackson Apr 23, 2022
Photographs By Brevin Townsell/ LA Rams

One look at Aaron Donald's resume heading into the 2021 season, and virtually anyone would arrive at the conclusion that one thing was missing: A Super Bowl title.

The Rams defensive lineman had been to the NFL's biggest game once before, with Los Angeles coming up short agains the New England Patriots back in 2019. This year, though, would be different – Donald personally made sure of it.

Here's a visual look back at how he made it happen and cemented his legacy.

The Work Begins

Donald starts his preparation for the season in mid-May during the Rams' offseason workout program and carries it over into training camp, which includes a joint practice with the Cowboys.

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Quest for Super Bowl kicks off

Donald starts his quest for a Super Bowl ring, finishing with one sack in the Rams' 34-14 season-opening win over the Bears.

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EARLY-SEASON FORESHADOWING

The Rams' Week 7 home game against the Lions came down to the wire, but it was Donald to the rescue, as his pressure on Lions quarterback Jared Goff forced an errant throw that would be intercepted by Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

Following the turnover, Rams kicker Matt Gay kicked a 47-yard field goal with 58 seconds left to give them a 9-point lead, enough distance for a 28-19 victory in the end.

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A Transformative Partnership and Friendship

The Rams acquire outside linebacker Von Miller in a trade with the Broncos on Nov. 1, pairing two generational pass-rushing talents together on the same defense. Reacting to the trade, Donald told reporters "I can't stop smiling."

Once Miller got up to speed and more involved, it led to an impact felt in both tangible and intangible ways for Donald. It not only took some attention away from him as he tried to get to the quarterback, but also challenged him in a way he didn't know he needed to be.

Late in the Rams' playoff run, Donald reveals that it Miller encouraged him to speak up and use his voice, rather than just leading by example alone.

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The Dominant December

From Weeks 13 through 16, Donald goes on a defensive tear. Collectively, he registers six sacks, two forced fumbles, eight QB hits and 21 total tackles to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Month while the Rams kickstart what becomes a five-game win streak.

His most impressive game comes against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football in Week 14, when he records three of those six sacks, including one on the first play of the game and one on the last play of the game. He also tallies five of his total tackles and three of his QB hits in this game, plus a pass breakup that leads directly to an interception by Rams linebacker Ernest Jones.

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Back to the Super Bowl

The Lions game was foreshadowing for a reason.

In a similar moment, Donald pressures 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garaoppolo into a flailing, errant throw that deflects off the intended receiver's hands and into Rams linebacker Travin Howard's for the game-clinching interception in the NFC Championship.

Donald is headed back to the Super Bowl for another shot at a ring and knows, tapping on his left ring finger as he celebrates: I want my ring.

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Triumph



For the second-straight game, Donald applies the game-clinching pressure, causing Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's pass to sail past the outstretched hands of its intended receiver for a turnover on downs, helping the Rams capture Super Bowl LVI.

The elusive absent item on his decorated resume can be checked off.

At last, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8-time Pro Bowler and seven-time First-Team All-Pro Selection is now a Super Bowl champion.

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