Dont’a Hightower’s contributions to the New England Patriots extend beyond his “linebacker” title.
Hightower on Wednesday was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in Sunday’s 38-31 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The 28-year-old made one of the most important plays of the game in the third quarter when he blocked Pat O’Donnell’s punt. Fellow linebacker Kyle Van Noy scooped up the loose ball and rumbled in for the touchdown, giving the Patriots a 31-24 lead they would never relinquish.
Hightower is the first New England player to win a Player of the Week award since running back Dion Lewis earned the distinction in Week 16 of last season, and the last Patriot to take home Special Teams Player of the Week honors since kicker Stephen Gostkowski in Week 11 of 2017.
A non-kicker winning this award is much more rare, as you’d expect: You have to go back to Julian Edelman in Week 9 of the 2014 season to find the last Patriots player not named Gostkowski or Ryan Allen to win Special Teams Player of the Week.