So it's fourth-and-1 with the game on the line in overtime. If you're the Seattle Seahawks, the decision of whom to give the ball to in light of recent events (you know the whole asspay at the olinegay at the end of the Uperbowlsay) is likely an easy one. Ride the horse that brung ya, so to speak, and let Marshawn Lynch do what he does best: get the tough yards between the tackles. Even in hindsight it was probably the right call to give him the ball on the last play against the St. Louis Rams because, I mean, why the hell not? After all, he already had over 70 yards on just 17 carries, so it's not like he was having a bad day.
Well as it turns out, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is why the hell not.
Donald, who had already racked up two sacks in the game and barely missed on two other occasions when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson managed to gain a yard or two while in his grasp, was just not about to let Lynch move the sticks to keep that drive alive.
Not with the Rams having already kicked a field goal.
Not with the knowledge that the Seahawks might well go down and score a touchdown after that conversion, rendering his previous efforts on the day all for naught.
No siree Bob!!!
Instead Donald came off the ball, exploded into Seahawks left guard Justin Britt, rag dolled him, ripped inside off the block and, along with fellow Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers, took down Beast Mode for a loss of one. That tackle for loss ended their division rivals' hopes for a victory in Week 1 and put the Rams in a very early tie with the Cardinals at the top of the NFC West.
Not too shabby a day's work, I'd say!
Last year when I wrote up Donald's pre-draft profile, I lamented that if he was just a few inches taller he probably would've been the top pick overall in 2014. As it was, he lasted all the way to the 13th pick to the Rams, all because he was measured at "only" 6'1. I'm betting a bunch of teams are kicking themselves for overreacting to his height back then.
I am not prone to hyperbole, but I am not sure that Donald isn't already one of top three best 4-3 defensive tackles in the game right now. He can literally do it all, including splitting double teams to make tackles against the run and whipping guards who try to pass block him like they owe him money. On his first sack Sunday, he went with a power rush against Seattle right guard J.R. Sweezy, then ripped off inside to take Wilson down. On his second sack he beat Britt with a quick arm-over and was on Wilson so quickly that the quarterback didn't even have time to react. Donald also had 10 other total (solo and assisted combined) tackles throughout the course of the game, including two for a loss.
Did I mention he also dropped out and helped cover Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham up the seam a couple of times as well?
If this kid keeps developing at this rate, he is going to be at the top of the hill of 4-3 defensive tackles in no time flat. There is no way to know what the future holds, but for this week at least, Aaron Donald was the cream of the crop. That's why I've awarded him the Hoss Of The Week Award for Week 1 of the NFL regular season. I have a feeling it won't be my last time writing him up for this award.