The New England Patriots’ special teams units contributed 14 points to the team’s 38-31 victory over the Chicago Bears in week 7. The first score came on a kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson, the second off a blocked punt: with the score tied at 24, Dont’a Hightower burst through the line of scrimmage to get his hands on Pat O’Donnell’s kicking attempt. The loose football was scooped up by Kyle Van Noy and returned for a score.
Hightower’s block did not only play a key role in helping the Patriots secure their first road win of the season, it also brought him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The veteran receiving the award marks the second time in his career that he has been named as one of the conference’s players of the week: during the 2016 season, the linebacker was named the AFC’s defensive player of week 6.
Until today no Patriot has earned player of the week honors this season. The last time a member of the team was honored this way came in 2017’s week 16 when running back Dion Lewis won AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The last time a special teamer received the award also took place last year: kicker Stephen Gostkowski earned the accolade for his performance in week 11.