(ORCHARD PARK) The Buffalo Bills and their fans prepared several tributes to Damar Hamlin Sunday in their first game since the safety collapsed in the middle of the game. Among other things, there was the number 3 on their T-shirts, homemade T-shirts and even a greeting card three meters wide.
However, what happened when the Bills players started the game could not be added to the pre-game script.
In his first game since Monday’s horrific Hamlin injury, in which he went into cardiac arrest, Neheim Hines ran for 96 yards after responding to a kickoff and scored the first touchdown of the game against the New England Patriots.
“I don’t remember seeing a play that affected me so much,” said Bills quarterback Josh Allen. It was brilliant…we couldn’t have asked for a better script. »
That stunning touchdown exclamation mark made a poignant start to the day in Buffalo. Indeed, the past week has been a tough one for the Bills, but they’ve been encouraged by Hamlin’s progress, which medical teams have called remarkable.
Although his condition was still declared critical by staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Saturday, the thief’s neurological function was excellent, according to his doctors, and he was once again able to breathe on his own and speak.
“Gosh! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hamlin wrote on Twitter immediately after Haynes’ initial touchdown. Ahead of the match, he also shared a photo of himself making a heart shape with his hands from his hospital bed.
Haynes added to that in the third quarter when he kicked in from 101 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The Bills finally capped off the day with a 35-23 win that allowed them to claim 2nd place in the American Conference standings for the playoffs.
Once their win was in their pockets, the Bills players raised three fingers in the air, while the crowd chanted “Hamlin! Hamlin!”.
“As a community, we felt we needed to go after that win,” Haynes said. Damar’s father tells us that what his son wants is for us to go on and beat the Patriots. »
Thus, the Bills (13-3) will take on the Miami Dolphins (9-8) in the first round of the playoffs next week. As for the Patriots (8-9), that loss, along with the Dolphins’ win over the New York Jets, eliminated them from the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
“I’m proud of how the players fought for this game. Collectively, we weren’t good enough,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said.
Football fans were ready to celebrate Hamlin’s progress when they hit the field on Sunday afternoon. Billboard owner Ryan Magnuson even prepared a three-meter wide welcome card that was placed at the stadium entrance for everyone to watch – and sign.
“It was a really positive thing. I saw Bills fans, Patriots fans, and even people with jerseys from other NFL teams coming up. I think it’s bigger than one team at this point,” Magnuson said. This is for Damar. »
Magnuson also hopes to be able to hand his giant card over to Hamlin.
Three hours before the game, several fans had already written Hamlin a letter of encouragement. Some urged him to “stay strong,” while others wrote him simply the word “love.”
Greetings to the medical workers
In a long celebration 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 of the Bills’ players held flags with messages to Hamlin, such as “Pray for Damar III”. For their part, fans held up posters with Hamlin’s number 3 and red hearts.
Players from both teams also dressed to cheer Hamlin during the pre-game warm-up, while the Bills players’ jerseys were emblazoned with the No. 3 logo.
Fans from every NFL team have given Hamlin their support over the past few days, including raising more than $8 million in donations for the “Chasing M’s” Thief Foundation.
All NFL teams planned to honor Hamlin on the 18thH and the final week of the season, which began on Saturday. A moment to honor the thief was held on all courts, while the number 3 was highlighted from the 30-yard lines on the courts.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was also in Buffalo for Sunday’s game.
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