Broncos vs. Patriots: Why Dont’a Hightower Is New England’s X-Factor

January 22, 2016   ·     ·   Jump to comments

With halftime approaching in their Week 12 matchup against the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots looked to be in great shape. Holding a 14-0 lead despite missing several key starters, their defense had almost completely shut down Denver's offense.  
Then linebacker Dont'a Hightower got hurt.
With Hightower out of the game, Denver’s rushing attack finally emerged. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for three rushing touchdowns, including Anderson’s 48-yard scamper to the end zone in overtime, to seal the Broncos’ comeback victory.
Though Hightower escaped serious injury with a sprained left MCL, his absence deeply exposed New England's inability to stop the run when he is not on the field.
MassLive’s Kevin Duffy broke down the negative impact that Hightower’s injury had on New England’s ability—or lack thereof—to stop Denver's running game:
In Hightower's absence, Denver's average y...

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