Kyle Dugger’s performance in Sunday’s New England Patriots victory earned him the first weekly honor of his NFL career.
The third-year safety was recognized as the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for Week 17 after his 39-yard pick-six helped turn the tide in New England’s 23-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
Dugger has been one of the Patriots’ top defensive playmakers this season, scoring defensive touchdowns against the Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders and Dolphins. He also helped create another by forcing a fumble that linebacker Raekwon McMillan returned for a touchdown. The Lenoir-Rhyne product has been directly involved in more than half of New England’s franchise-record seven defensive scores, garnering rave reviews from his teammates.
“I think you’re going to have to write Kyle a blank check, that’s how good he is,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said after Sunday’s game.
“You don’t get a lot of Kyle Duggers in your locker room,” cornerback Jonathan Jones added. “He’s a special guy.”
Dugger is the fifth Patriots player to receive Player of the Week honors this season, joining Judon, linebacker Josh Uche, kicker Nick Folk and punt returner Marcus Jones. That’s the highest total for a New England team since 2017. All five were recognized for their contributions on defense or special teams, underscoring where the Patriots’ strengths have lied.
The Patriots are preparing to visit the Buffalo Bills this Sunday in their final regular-season game. As of Wednesday, the NFL was planning to play the game as scheduled following Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s injury and hospitalization, but it had not ruled out a postponement.