(Orchard Park) The Buffalo Bills and their fans had prepared several tributes for Damar Hamlin on Sunday in her first game since security collapsed midgame. Among other things, they wore the number 3 on their jersey, home-made jerseys and even a three-meter-wide greeting card.
However, what happened when the Bills players started the game could not have been added to the script before the game.
On his first play since Hamlin’s terrifying injury Monday, in which he went into cardiac arrest, Nyheim Hines rushed for 96 yards after catching the kickoff and scored the first touchdown of the game against the New England Patriots.
“I don’t remember seeing a play that moved me that much,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. It was ingenious… we couldn’t have asked for a better script. »
This spectacular touchdown put an exclamation point on an exciting start to the day in Buffalo. Indeed, the last week has been difficult for the Bills, but they have been encouraged by Hamlin’s progress, which medical teams have called remarkable.
Although his condition was still rated critical by staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Saturday, the prowler’s neurological function was excellent, according to his doctors, and he was once again able to breathe on his own and speak.
“OMGG! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hamlin tweeted just after Hines’ opening touchdown run. Before the game, he also shared a photo of himself making a heart shape with his hands from his hospital bed.
Hines added to that in the third quarter when he punted 101 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The Bills finally capped off the day with a 35-23 victory that allowed them to finish second in the AFC playoff standings.
Once their victory was in their pocket, the Bills players held up three fingers in the air, as the crowd chanted “Hamlin! Hamlin! “.
“As a community, we felt like we needed to go after this win,” Hines said. Damar’s father told us that what he wanted his son was for us to go on and beat the Patriots. »
The Bills (13-3) will host the Miami Dolphins (9-8) in the first round of the playoffs next week. As for the Patriots (8-9), this loss, added to the Dolphins’ victory over the New York Jets, means they are excluded from the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
“I’m proud of how the players fought for this game. But collectively, we just weren’t good enough,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said.
Football fans were ready to celebrate Hamlin’s progress when they arrived at the stadium on Sunday afternoon. The owner of the Billboard company, Ryan Magnuson, had even prepared a 10-foot-wide greeting card that was placed at the stadium entrance for all to see and sign.
“It was really positive. I saw Bills fans, Patriots fans, and even people wearing jerseys from other NFL teams coming up. I think it’s bigger than a team right now,” Magnuson said. This is for Damar. »
Magnuson is also looking forward to delivering his giant letter to Hamlin.
Three hours before the game, many fans had already written their message of encouragement for Hamlin. Some urged him to “stay strong,” while others simply texted him “love.”
Tribute to medical staff
In a lengthy ceremony before the game against the Patriots, the Bills honored their medical and support staff, who were introduced to the crowd one by one, each time receiving a standing ovation.
As they entered the field, several Bills players carried banners with messages for Hamlin, including “Pray for Damar 3.” For their part, supporters held up signs with Hamlin’s number 3 and red hearts.
Players from both teams also wore cheer apparel for Hamlin during pregame warmups, while a number 3 shield was placed on the Bills players’ game jerseys.
Fans of every NFL team have offered their support for Hamlin in recent days, including raising more than $8 million in donations for the prowler’s “Chasing M’s” foundation.
All NFL teams are planning a tribute to Hamlin during the 18me and last week of the season, which began on Saturday. A moment of tribute to the prowler was held in all the stadiums, while the numbers 3 of the 30-yard line stood out on the courts.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was also in Buffalo for Sunday’s game.
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