Perhaps the biggest star matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 was that of defensive tackle Aaron Donald and guard Quenton Nelson.
Nelson has been regarded as the best at his position with three first-team All-Pro selections since entering the league as the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While he may be considered the favorite to gain the upper hand in most weeks, that was not the case with Donald paying a visit to Lucas Oil Stadium.
After all, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is in the midst of becoming the greatest to ever play the game. Nelson made sure to recognize the opportunity that was before him. Nelson paid Donald plenty of respect following the Rams’ 27-24 win, via Stephen Holder of The Athletic:
Quenton Nelson on Aaron Donald: “It was an honor to play against the best player in the NFL. I knew on every play I had to be at my best to even win a rep.”
That is high, high praise. And I’m not sure I disagree.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) September 19, 2021
It is clear that game recognized game for Nelson and he relished in being able to square off against a generational talent of Donald’s caliber. It is safe to say that the matchup managed to fit the billing.
Donald finished the game with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and three QB hits. While Nelson and Co. did manage to prevent him from recording a sack, Donald still made a significant impact.
In fact, Pro Football Focus looked favorably on Donald’s outing with a 92.1 grade while Nelson was dealt a career-low 52.2 grade. Even if this matchup shifted in towards the Rams’ superstar, there is no question that the latter did a solid job of preventing him from making splash plays.
Among the other notable PFF grades was that of center Brian Allen (70.8), who is currently the No.2-graded center in the NFL through the first two weeks. this may come as a pleasant surprise considering the interior of this offensive line had been a point of concern throughout the offseason.
The Rams have followed through on some of the hype with their 2-0 start to the season. However, they now face their biggest test when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium in Week 3.
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