STL-SEA Grades: Aaron Donald, Rams’ D-line control game

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 23-17 win over the Seahawks.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

STL-SEA Grades: Aaron Donald, Rams’ D-line control game

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 23-17 win over the Seahawks.

St. Louis Rams

– The story of this game was very similar to the story from the Rams’ Week 1 win over the Seahawks. The Rams’ defensive line absolutely controlled the Seahawks’ offense. Aaron Donald (+9.9) was once again unstoppable. The Seahawks ran outside zone a good number of times, and only once did they manage to cleanly block the second-year defensive tackle. Williams Hayes (+6.4) also continued to show that his extremely high grade this year is no fluke. He finished the day with four sacks, two hits, and three hurries.

– One of the most surprising outcomes of the game was how well the Rams’ offensive line stood up to the Seahawks’ talented front. Case Keenum was pressured on only five of his 25 dropbacks, and at times, there were holes for Todd Gurley (-1.8) to run through (key words being “at times”). Greg Robinson (-4.6) was still a liability, but the two rookies on the right side of the line played some impressive football. Right tackle Rob Havenstein (-0.2) may have finished with a negative grade, but that came against one of the best edge rushers in football, Cliff Avril. Right guard Cody Wichmann (+5.2) had by far his best outing of the season, and made a living controlling Ahtyba Rubin in the run game.

– QB Case Keenum (-2.0) was basically instructed not to mess up an early lead, with only six attempts targeted 10+ yards downfield and an average depth of target of 7.0 yards—but the Rams were still lucky that one of his handful of ugly misses didn’t cost them the win. He threw multiple balls underneath that pinged off defenders’ hands that could have just as easily been picked. Most notable were near-interceptions to K.J. Wright and another to Kelcie McCray late in the fourth quarter.

Top performers:

DT Aaron Donald (+9.9)
DE William Hayes (+6.4)
RG Cody Wichmann (+5.2)
FS Rodney McLeod (+2.0)
WR Kenny Britt (+1.4)


Seattle Seahawks

– Another solid showing from QB Russell Wilson (+1.8), but some untimely sacks, botched snaps (seriously, what were those?), and non-existent running game killed the Seahawks’ offense. It also didn’t help that his best throw of the day, a dime on a corner route to Jermaine Kearse (+0.7), was called back due to penalty.

– The offensive line was once again thoroughly dominated, with every starter earning a steep negative grade. The interesting thing to me, though, was how many runs were blown up by fullback Will Tukuafu (-3.4) and Lemuel Jeanpierre (-2.3), who was used as a blocking tight end on five snaps. One play in particular, third quarter at 9:48, was perfectly blocked at the point of attack and could have been a touchdown, except Tukuafu botched his kick-out block on Akeem Ayers, and it ended up in a 2-yard gain.

– It’s easy to remember Richard Sherman (+1.6) getting burned badly for a touchdown by Kenny Britt, but the linebackers and secondary had a solid day in coverage. Four different players (Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Kelcie McCray, and DeShawn Shead) earned coverage grades of +1.0 or above, and no single player gave up more than 32 yards. The defense held up it’s end of the bargain for most of the day in this one.

Top performers:

DE Michael Bennett (+3.9)
K.J. Wright (+2.7)
WR Doug Baldwin (+2.2)
QB Russell Wilson (+1.8)
MLB Bobby Wagner (+1.8)

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • 24AHAD

    Aaron Donald is a freak wow

    • JonLee

      I will never, EVER understand how he wasn’t a top 5 five pick in the draft.

      • PackMaster


      • PFSeahawk

        Same reason Russel Wilson wasn’t. He didn’t have prototypical size.

    • JudoPrince

      Best D lineman in the game

  • Carson

    Seems like they explain their grading criteria as having an emphasis on “relative performance,” based on how a player’s performance matches up relative to his potential. I understand the “all phases,” – all plays, not-outcome-dependent/based – grading like, well, how real football grading works; but their explanation seemed to reinforce a subconscious focus on playing to the standard or expectations attached, especially, to physical measurables and history (so obvious, it more resembles denial…but regardless…).