No one knows how Buffalo Bills Sunday will see Damar Hamlin in their first game since the injury, but if the first game is any indication, the Bills are ready to roll.
With Hamlin watching from a hospital in Ohio, the Bills honored him before the game after Nyheim Hines returned a 96-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff. The stunning touchdown sent everyone inside Highmark Stadium into a frenzy as players and fans alike celebrated the improbable fact that the Bills were able to score in their first game since Hamlin’s injury.
The score marked the first time in 18 years the Bills returned an opening kickoff for a touchdown and the first time they did it at home.
It was an emotional way to start the game for a team that had been on a roller coaster ride of emotions all week after watching Hamlin suffer a heart attack Monday night in Cincinnati. In the hours after the injury, it wasn’t even clear if he was going to live, but the Bills’ defense has been making steady progress over the past few days.
On Wednesday night, he was able to communicate with his medical team for the first time by writing notes on a piece of paper. By Thursday, he was able to communicate verbally. By Friday, he was able to participate in FaceTime phone calls, and by Sunday, he was watching the Patriots-Bills game with his family.
Hamlin was watching on the kickoff return and had a simple four-letter reaction.
He was equally excited when Hines returned it for another kickoff touchdown in the third quarter.
That TD gave the Bills a 21-17 lead in the second half, and Hamlin was equally excited about the return.
Hines became the first NFL player since 2010 to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game.
You can’t write a better script than this. Six days ago, all anyone could think about was Hamlin’s health, and six days later the Bills put a giant smile on his face, not just one, but two kickoff return touchdowns. It was a storybook way to start their game against the Bills PatriotsA game they must win If they want to succeed No. in the AFC. 2 overall seed.
The Bills and the NFL’s 31 other teams all honored Hamlin on Sunday. Not only did most players wear Hamlin t-shirts in warm-ups, but each team had the “3” outlined in blue on their field.
Bills Won 35-23While knocking the Patriots out of the playoffs, the AFC’s No. Defending the 2nd position.
“Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker.”