Not only did Dunlap help the Bengals defense force four turnovers and limit the 49ers to just 14 points, but he also made a big impact on special teams with his blocked field goal in the fourth quarter. For his efforts, Dunlap has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
It's not often you see a defensive lineman earn this award, but Dunlap certainly made a good case for it. With the Bengals leading 24-7 in the fourth quarter, the 49ers attempted a 41-yard field goal that would have made this a two-score game. The kick left Phil Dawson's foot and looked to be heading right toward the middle of the uprights, but Dunlap and his 6'6" frame jumped up just high enough to get a hand on the ball and cause it to fall short of the end zone.
Dunlap barely even moved forward as the ball was snapped and was able to time his jump perfectly to block the kick and take three points off the board.
Considering the 49ers went on to cut the lead to 10 points and recover an onside kick, that blocked kick ended up keeping the 49ers from having the ball with a chance to tie the game on their final possession. Had that kick been made, the lead would have been just 24-17 after the Niners scored a touchdown with two minutes left and then recovered an onside kick.
Perhaps that's why Dunlap won this award. He also chipped in three tackles and a QB hit on defense. He has 45 tackles and 10.5 sacks this season, which helped Dunlap get voted into the 2016 Pro Bowl as a first alternate. That means he's almost certain to make it if the Bengals aren't in the Super Bowl, which Dunlap would obviously rather be playing in.
Though, this was his reaction to not making the game:
— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) December 23, 2015
The weekly award is just the second of Dunlap’s six-year NFL career. He was AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 13 of the 2012 season. That game saw Dunlap sack Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers twice and forced two fumbles en route to a 20-13 Bengals win in San Diego.
This blocked kick was also the second for Dunlap in three weeks after he blocked a field goal in a 37-3 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 14.