Josh Allen could barely hold back his emotions as he described Nyheim Hines’ kick return touchdown in the Buffalo Bills’ first play since teammate Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest.
With Hamlin watching from his hospital bed and after some powerful pre-game tributes, Hines took the opening kickoff from the New England Patriots 96-yards for a touchdown in a spine-tingling moment that might have been written for a movie.
Fans inside Highmark Stadium went wild in celebration, while Hamlin took to Twitter to celebrate the play, saying: “OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Dr. Timothy Pritts, one of Hamlin’s doctors at UC Medical Center in Cincinnati, said Monday that Hamlin set off the alarms in ICU by getting out of his chair and jumping up and down at the thrilling runback.
Bills quarterback Allen had to hold back tears as he described what that moment was like for him and the rest of the Bills team.
“I can’t remember a play that touched me like that, I don’t think in my life. It’s probably No. 1,” Allen told reporters after the game, per the NFL.
“It’s pretty cool,” Allen said with a crack of emotion in his voice.
He added: “If you want the truth, it was spiritual. It really was. Bone-chilling. It was special.”
Hamlin wears the No. 3. shirt and players wore No. 3 patches on their uniforms and on Sunday the power of three as a number looked to be very much in evidence.
The kick return touchdown from Hines was the first in three years and three months for the Bills, Allen contributed three touchdowns, while the Bills defense had three interceptions.
“I’m speechless,” Hines told reporters. “I’m so thankful it was me to bring that juice.”
“That’s what I always thought about, and that’s what I thought all day. It’s just bigger than me and bigger than those 10 guys who did a great job of blocking for me.”
Later in the game Hines scored a second kickoff return touchdown. In doing so, he became the 11th player in NFL history with two kickoff return touchdowns in the same game and the first since the Seattle Seahawks’ Leon Washington in Week 3, 2010, according to the NFL.
Hamlin on Monday was transferred from the Cincinnati hospital and flown to Buffalo, where he is at a medical facility there.
Hines’ two touchdowns were the catalysts in the Bills securing the No. 2 spot in the AFC Wild Card playoff picture with their 35-23 over the Patriots.
Allen threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns – one each to Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Dawson Knox – as the Bills knocked New England out of playoff contention.