Dont’a Hightower is the AFC defensive player of the week

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The Patriots were trailing the Bengals 14-10 in the third quarter of last Sunday’s game when linebacker Dont’a Hightower made a big play.

With the Bengals backed up against their end zone, Hightower got past the Bengals blockers and dropped quarterback Andy Dalton for a safety. The play cut the Bengals lead to two and sparked a run that would erase it in short order.

The Patriots would outscore the Bengals 23-3 the rest of the way in a 35-17 win that lifted New England’s record to 5-1 on the season. Hightower added 13 tackles and another half-sack to the stat sheet, which all added up to enough to make him the choice as the AFC defensive player of the week.

It’s the first time Hightower has taken weekly honors and the fourth time that a Patriots player has been honored with such an award this season. Running back LeGarrette Blount was also named the AFC’s offensive player of the month for September.