BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In their first game since Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field, the Buffalo Bills returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Josh Allen said the play was ”just spiritual. … You can’t draw that one up or write that one up any better.”
Meanwhile, back in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Hamlin was able to watch the game on TV. When Nyheim Hines scored the opening touchdown, Hamlin celebrated. Hard.
“When the opening kickoff was run back, he jumped up and down, got out of his chair – set, I think, every alarm off in the ICU in the process,” Dr. Timothy Pritts of UC Health said Monday.
“He was fine,” Pritts added. “It was just an appropriate reaction to a very exciting play.”
Pritts and Dr. William Knight IV announced Monday that Hamlin was released from intensive care and was able to fly home to Buffalo, where he will continue to recover at Buffalo General Medical Center. The news comes exactly one week after his on-field accident that resulted in the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game and brought the country together in support. More than $8 million has been donated to Hamlin’s charity.
”I can’t remember a play that touched me like that I don’t think in my life,” Allen said of the kick return. “It’s probably No. 1.”
Hamlin’s excitement was captured simply in his tweet after the opening touchdown. ”OMFG!!!!!!” he wrote.
The Bills went on to beat the New England Patriots, 35-23, to clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They host the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s Wild Card game.
Hines’ touchdown was the Bills’ first kick return score since October 2019 — a span of three years and three months, which some fans took as another sign of Hamlin’s jersey No. 3 appearing in various ways this week. NFL Next Gen Stats said Hines reached a speed of 21.25 mph while racing for the end zone — the fastest speed they had ever tracked him at, with or without the ball.
Hines added a second kick return touchdown later in the game, which no NFL player had done since 2010. He was the first player Bills player to accomplish the feat.
“That was for you 3!” Hines tweeted after the game. “You been telling me I was going to break one since I’ve been here. Happy we could give you 2 of em! Your spirit was out there with all of us.”