New England Patriots: Dont’a Hightower Among Most Underrated Defensive Players in NFL

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Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots spent their Thursday night committing crimes against marine mammals as they mauled the Miami Dolphins by a 36-7 score. The Dolphins cut the lead to 19-7 early in the third quarter to make it appear they may crawl back into the game for a short time. However, the Patriots drove down to extend the lead to 22-7 before finishing off the their squishing of the fish.

It was New England’s seventh consecutive regular season win and tenth win in a row including  last postseason. The Patriots also ran their current dominance of the AFC East to an amazing 19 wins in their last 20 games at Gillette Stadium against a division rival.

New England is now 7-0 for the first time since their undefeated 2007 regular season and they topped 30 points for the sixth time in seven games (they were held to 28 points against Pittsburgh in week one). Other than the first quarter of their win against Pittsburgh in the first game of the season, the Patriots have scored points in every other quarter in 2015.

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The Dolphins had come in yapping and pounding their chests after two straight wins in the previous two weeks under interim head coach and PC Principal lookalike Dan Campbell. All the good vibes and emotion did little for Miami as the Patriots still rolled over them with ease. The Dolphins had scored 82 points combined in their wins over AFC South pushovers Tennessee and Houston (a combined 3-10), but it was an entirely different story for Miami when facing New England.

Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England defense shut out the Dolphins in the first half of the game and after allowing a touchdown drive to start the third quarter shut them right back down. The New England offense was balanced as they ran and threw the ball without resistance from a Miami defense which had dominated their opponents in the previous two weeks.

Let’s take one more look back at the game tape and inside the statistics and come up with five things we learned from the New England Patriots shellacking of Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night. The final part of this five-part series is a look at New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower and how his return to the lineup against the Jets and particularly against Miami highlights his value to the New England defense:

Next: Dont’a Hightower is Underrated