Buffalo Bills running back Nyheim Hines scored on two kickoff returns in the team’s regular-season finale against the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
It was the team’s first game since being rescued. Damar Hamlin collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest during the Bengals’ Monday night game in Cincinnati, and the team said its stunning success from the start was in his honour.
As the game began, Hamlin’s Twitter account posted a photo of him watching from his hospital bed, wearing a “Love for Damar” jersey and forming the shape of a heart with his hands. Soon after, Hamlin appeared to react to Hines’ first jaw-dropping play, which occurred 14 seconds into the game, tweeting, “OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
After the touchdown, the NFL tweeted “that was for 3,” and the Bills tweeted “meant to be,” noting that it had been three years and three months since their last kickoff return for a touchdown.
There were numerous tributes to Hamlin before and during Sunday’s game.
The Bills appeared to dedicate the game to Hamlin in a Sunday morning tweet, 24: “Today is for 3,” the tweet said, alongside a photo of Hamlin wearing his No. 3 jersey.
The Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen carried a #3 flag out onto the field in Hamlin’s honour prior to kickoff, as cameras panned over the stands at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York — the Bills’ home turf — where fans waved signs reading “Do it for Hamlin” and “Hamlin One Team One Family.”
According to the NFL, the Bills planned to wear “3” hats on the sidelines in honour of Hamlin’s number, as well as a special “3” patch on their jerseys. In a statement issued Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that “players and coaches from all 32 teams will wear “Love for Damar 3″ T-shirts during pregame warmups in a league-wide show of support for Damar.”
According to the NFL, the “3” in each 30-yard line number on the field was also outlined in the Bills’ colours of red or blue.
The Patriots also tweeted a picture of a #3 jersey inside their locker room with the words “Love for Damar.”
Prior to the game, the Bills’ medical and training staff were recognised on the field for rushing to Hamlin’s aid following his mid-game collapse.