Bills Honor Hamlin, Then Open With TD

Teammate runs back kickoff for a touchdown, later does it again
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2023 3:40 PM CST
Honoring Hamlin, Bills Score on Opening Play
The Buffalo Bills medical team waves to cheering fans before the game Sunday in Orchard Park, NY.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The Buffalo Bills honored injured teammate Damar Hamlin before their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, but that was just the beginning of it. Moments later, Buffalo's Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff and ran 96 yards as he's never run before, speeding straight ahead, then cutting to the right sideline, which he followed until he arrived untouched in the end zone. Hines reached 21.25mph on the return, the fastest he's ever carried the ball, ESPN reports. He then jumped into the stands to celebrate with fans.

Hamlin was among the amazed viewers, tweeting in celebration from a hospital in Cincinnati. Players, coaches, and fans across the league showed their support for Hamlin by carrying signs, waving flags with his image, and wearing No. 3, per CNN. The team's medical staff that tended to Hamlin after his collapse also was recognized in the pregame ceremony. In the third quarter, Hines performed an encore, with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the first time since 2010 that two kickoffs were returned for touchdowns by the same player, and only the 11th time in league history, per (Read more Buffalo Bills stories.)

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