6. Dont’a Hightower
The Ringer Rank: 10
Hightower has only been in New England since 2012, but the organization could look a lot different without him.
Cut to 1:03 remaining in Super Bowl XLIX. The Seahawks faced a first-and-goal after an amazing catch by Jermaine Kearse and appear to be ready to punch in the game-winning touchdown.
The Seahawks handed it off to their bulldozing running back, Marshawn Lynch, who was ready to walk into the end zone. Instead, Hightower sheds lineman Russell Okung and takes down the 215 pound Lynch down with one arm. The very next play, Malcolm Butler intercepts the pass to clinch a Super Bowl victory.
Back in February, New England finally cut into the Falcons lead and now trail by 16 points with 8:31 left in the game. Smelling momentum, Hightower quickly got to Matt Ryan as he was throwing the ball, causing a fumble that Alan Branch recovered.
After the recovery, Brady found Amendola for another score which helped propel the Patriots to one of the greatest comebacks in NFL and sports history. Without Hightower, the Patriots could very well still have just three Super Bowls.