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Josh Allen on Bills Returning Opening Kickoff for TD: Can't Write It Up Any Better

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills jogs onto the field wearing a Damar Hamlin shirt prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills went into Sunday's matchup against the New England Patriots with safety Damar Hamlin on their minds after he suffered cardiac arrest during last week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a contest that was ultimately canceled.

So when Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff to the house against the Patsโ€”one of two return touchdowns he had on the afternoonโ€”it was a special moment.

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

ARE YOU KIDDING, <a href="https://twitter.com/TheNyNy7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheNyNy7</a>?!<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZgH7YChSD8">pic.twitter.com/ZgH7YChSD8</a>

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"You can't draw that one up, write that one up any better," an emotional Josh Allen told reporters after Buffalo's 35-23 win. "I was just told by [Bills director of communications] Kevin Kearns it's been three years and three months...since the last kickoff return [for a touchdown], so it's pretty cool."

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

3 is a special number. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForDamar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForDamar</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LoveForDamar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LoveForDamar</a> <a href="https://t.co/itjpxQ4wKv">pic.twitter.com/itjpxQ4wKv</a>

Hamlin wears the No. 3 jersey for the Bills.

"Bone-chilling," Allen added. "It was special. I can't remember a play that touched me like that, I don't think in my life."

NFL @NFL

"If you want the truth, it was spiritual. It really was. Bone-chilling."<a href="https://twitter.com/JoshAllenQB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoshAllenQB</a> got emotional speaking about <a href="https://twitter.com/TheNyNy7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheNyNy7</a>'s kick return TD on the first play of the game. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForDamar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForDamar</a> (via <a href="https://twitter.com/BuffaloBills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BuffaloBills</a>) <a href="https://t.co/sd3IvTyt0S">pic.twitter.com/sd3IvTyt0S</a>

Hamlin, 24, collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter against the Bengals. Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington administered CPR on the field to Hamlin after he lost his pulse and required resuscitation and defibrillation.

Hamlin was then hospitalized and started to awaken Thursday. His breathing tube was removed Friday, and he tweeted throughout Sunday's win:

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

That's My Quarterback ๐Ÿฅน๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿพ. <a href="https://t.co/NALlJK8tCg">https://t.co/NALlJK8tCg</a>

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

GameDay.. Nothing I Want More Than To Be Running Out That Tunnel With My Brothers. God Using Me In A Different Way Today. Tell Someone You Love Them Today! ๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿพ3๏ธโƒฃ let's go <a href="https://twitter.com/BuffaloBills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BuffaloBills</a> โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’™ <a href="https://t.co/XgA7S3Bpvn">pic.twitter.com/XgA7S3Bpvn</a>

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

GAMETIME!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/BuffaloBills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BuffaloBills</a> ๐Ÿ’™ <a href="https://t.co/PQYClonUHb">pic.twitter.com/PQYClonUHb</a>

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

God Behind All This No Coincidence..3๏ธโƒฃ <a href="https://t.co/J2dCVv4VBN">https://t.co/J2dCVv4VBN</a>

๐ƒ๐š๐ฆ๐š๐ซ ๐‡๐š๐ฆ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง @HamlinIsland

Love you more! ๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿพ3๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ’• <a href="https://t.co/ZWPFDY627L">https://t.co/ZWPFDY627L</a>

"He is amazing," head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Sunday regarding Hamlin. "His spirit is so positive. He is going to be 'locked in,' he said, to watch the guys today. We will be thinking of him for sure."

A number of Bills players acknowledged that trying to prepare for a football game while Hamlin's condition was uncertain throughout the week was a difficult task, including linebacker Tremaine Edmunds:

"It was definitely an emotional week for all of us. He gave us strength throughout the week, just constant positive updates. Just knowing that he was doing better. And I can't lie, that FaceTime call we had with him earlier this week put a lot of our hearts at ease a little bit just knowing that he's doing better. Knowing that he's going to be fine. Still a long journey for him, but I mean it touched a lot of our hearts because obviously that was a scary moment for a lot of us."

Dianna Russini @diannaESPN

The Bills locker room face timed with Damar Hamlin after the win.

Dianna Russini @diannaESPN

Bills Tre' White-very emotionalโ€”said that at 2:30 am Sunday Damar Hamlin texted his teammates to say he was thinking about them and โ€ฆ that he "was sorry to put them through the incident on the field Monday night."

With Sunday's win, the Bills finished 13-3 on the season and will hold the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs after the Kansas City Chiefs won Saturday and clinched the top overall seed.

The Bills will host their divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins, in the AFC Wild Card Round next weekend. And Hamlin will be rooting them on.