ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — The Bills did a lot of praying this week.
It shouldn’t be a surprise after the ordeal they went through, watching their teammates, their brother, Damar Hamlin, collapse on the field Monday night.
It’s the type of incident that can test a man’s faith, even shake someone down to their soul. Many of those prayers were already answered in the form of Hamlin’s recovery and the fact that he’s already communicating with his team, even talking to the players after the win on Sunday.
But when this win over the Patriots began with Nyheim Hines running back a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, there was more than one Bills player on the sideline who thought the Almighty intervened one more time.
“It was just spiritual. I was just going around to my teammates saying ‘God is real’. You can’t draw that one up, write that up any better,” said Josh Allen. “It was spiritual. Bone-chilling. It was special. I can’t remember a play that touched me like that, I don’t think in my life.”
Allen choked up thinking about the fact that Hines’ kickoff return touchdown was the first since 2019, three years and three months ago.
“Things like that don’t just happen. That just shows you that God is real,” said left tackle Dion Dawkins. “For that to start that game like we were all like, ‘alright, something is scarily weird’. It’s a strong energy. This team is just full of love. From the angels like that have been watching us and DHam’s spirit and all of those prayers. It just seems like it’s overflowing to each and every one of us.”
While cameras showed the Bills players with stunned faces on the sideline, it was a play that head coach Sean McDermott saw coming.
“To be honest with you I thought before, in the days leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be special if we could take that opening kickoff,” said McDermott. “And then when it happened, respectfully, I wasn’t surprised.”
Despite his proclamation, McDermott admitted after the game with a laugh that if he won the coin flip he would have deferred to the second half.
Hamlin was watching the game from the hospital and was tweeting his through during the game. His first message after the touchdown was simple.
“OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he wrote.
“You know, big shoutout to Damar,” said Hines, who returned another kickoff for a touchdown later in the game. “The fact that we could do that in his absence, honestly you can’t really just make that up. It’s just, wow.”
Hines said that Hamlin introduced himself to him as soon as he got to Buffalo and that the two talked every day. He also remarked on how impressed he was with how the Bills organization handled the situation.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’m happy to be here, happy to be a Buffalo Bill,” said Hines.
The Bills will host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, January 15th at 1:00 p.m.