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Rewatch five of Aaron Donald's greatest performances on NFL+

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One of the greatest defensive players of this generation is moving on from the game.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced on Friday that he is retiring from the NFL after 10 seasons. In his career, Donald earned 10 Pro Bowl nods, eight first-team All-Pro honors, three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards and helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI in 2021 -- their first title since moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

With Donald hanging up his cleats, NFL+ takes a look back at the defensive tackle's greatest performances over his illustrious, gold jacket-worthy career.

1) Donald's greatness leads to Super Bowl win

A longtime nightmare of opposing coaches and quarterbacks, Donald showcased why he was one of the most dominant defenders in NFL history on the biggest stage. Joe Burrow and the Bengals had a chance to win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Cincinnati trailed by three with 1:25 left in the game. Burrow appeared to be gaining steam after connecting with Ja’Marr Chase on a 17-yard play and then tossing a short pass down the middle to Tyler Boyd for a 9-yard gain. However, the next two plays -- a deep attempt from Burrow to Chase and a run -- went for no gain. Facing a fourth-and-1, Donald swooped by a Bengals offensive tackle and spun Burrow around for a sack as the QB tried to make a play, clinching L.A.'s Lombardi Trophy.

2) No. 99's impact in NFC Championship Game

The 2021 campaign between the Rams and the 49ers was one-sided in the regular season. But when it mattered most in the team's third matchup of the season during the playoffs, the Rams climbed over the hump to beat their NFC West rivals. In a tight game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter with a trip to Super Bowl LVI on the line, Donald shined. The Rams DT came bearing down on Jimmy Garoppolo to force the 49ers QB to fling the ball over JaMycal Hasty's hands, which led to a game-sealing interception at SoFi Stadium. Donald pointed at his ring finger after the conclusion of the play, indicating to the crowd that he would have a chance to win a Super Bowl ring thanks to a game-changing pressure in the NFC title game.

3) Donald records fours sacks vs. Cardinals

This game from 2018 is arguably Donald's best career performance. Going against a veteran QB in C.J. Beathard, Donald recorded four sacks, nine tackles, five QB hits and forced a fumble in a dominating showing. Following a Rams punt in the first quarter, Donald played the hero on the very next play. Niners running back Matt Breida took the pitch to the right side, where Donald managed to get his hand inside Breida's arms, causing a fumble. It's a highlight-reel strip that belongs in any compilation of Donald's top plays. Not only was it a lesson for Breida, but it served as an important warning for other running backs in the league to ensure they protect the ball when seeing Donald in the trenches.

4) Donald's late heroics on Monday Night Football

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, who faces the Rams in the NFC West twice a year, took to social media on Friday to jokingly thank God after Donald's retirement announcement. This Monday night game from December 2021 likely has something to do with that point of view.  Under the bright lights of prime time, Donald got to work right away. In Arizona's first snap, Donald pushed tackle Max Garcia into Murray, and the QB went to the ground. Fast forward to the fourth quarter, where the Rams have a 30-23 lead and gave up an onside kick. Donald held off the Cardinals' late comeback by sacking Murray in the final seconds of the game, proving too quick for the QB to scramble away and attempt a Hail Mary pass. Donald finished the contest with three sacks.

5) Donald makes history by breaking DT sack record

Entering Week 16 against the Cardinals in 2018 with 16.5 sacks, Donald needed two more to set a new NFL single-season sack record for a defensive tackle. Donald was able to get his first sack quickly in the first quarter after L.A. fumbled on its first drive. He quickly beat Cardinals offensive tackle Colby Gossett to get Josh Rosen down. However, Donald had to wait until the fourth quarter to do it again. With 12:10 left in the game, Donald found a gap and attacked up the middle, darting toward Rosen for his second sack. He surpassed defensive tackles La'Roi Glover and Keith Millard, who had both recorded 18 sacks in a season. For the cherry on top, Donald added a third sack later in the quarter to break the Rams' single-season franchise sack record previously held by Robert Quinn. He reached a career-high of 20.5 sacks that season.

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