BUFFALO (KSNT) – A script couldn’t have been written any better.
In the Buffalo Bills’ first football game since safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, the team returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
During Monday Night Football between the Bills and Bengals on January 2, Hamlin made a routine tackle midway through the first quarter. After standing up, Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed to the field.
Medical personnel administered CPR and used an AED as Hamlin was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. The remainder of the Bills/Bengals matchup was first suspended, then canceled.
Hamlin has been making progress all week, first communicating using writing, and recently talking to the team in a FaceTime call at practice Friday, January 6.
In Buffalo’s Sunday matchup against the Patriots in the teams’ regular season finale, the stadium was covered in Hamlin’s jersey No. 3 and signs saying, “Pray for Damar” and “Love for Damar.”
New England won the opening coin toss and elected to differ, with the Bills choosing to receive the ball. Tensions were high as the team took the field for the first time since their teammate’s cardiac arrest.
The play couldn’t have turned out any better. Kicked to the five-yard-line, return man Nyheim Hines took the ball up the middle, bounced outside to the right, and returned the kickoff back for a touchdown.
The Buffalo crowd went wild as Bills quarterback Josh Allen put his hands on his head in astonishment. Just six days since Hamlin’s collapse, the Bills start with a huge play as the crowd watched with nervous excitement.