Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin spent his Sunday afternoon doing what the rest of Bills Mafia was doing: tweeting about the Bills game. Considering what he’s been through in the past week, that in and of itself is very much worth celebrating.
And celebrate it, his Bills teammates and the rest of the NFL did: Hamlin’s presence was ubiquitous across league broadcasts all day, but particularly in Orchard Park, NY, where the Bills defeated the New England Patriots, 35-23, to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Here’s a quick little rundown of Hamlin’s day on Twitter.
Hamlin shared a picture of himself and his parents before the game from his room at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition after going into cardiac arrest less than a full week ago. He was decked out in the same “Love for Damar” gear that the entire league wore to honor the 24-year-old on Sunday.
Nyheim Hines opening kickoff touchdown return
In a surreal moment straight out of cinema, Bills running back Nyheim Hines fielded the opening kickoff of their Week 18 game — the first live snap the team had played since Hamlin’s injury — and promptly returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. Hamlin was truly one of us in his reaction to the play.
OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
A bit later on during the first half, the Bills noted that Hines’ return touchdown was the first for the team in three years and three months — nodding toward Hamlin’s No. 3 jersey.
Dawson Knox touchdown reception
At the beginning of the second quarter, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made time in the pocket and found tight end Dawson Knox for a four-yard touchdown to give the Bills a 14-7 lead. As he celebrated his score, Knox quickly found a CBS camera, threw three fingers up, formed his hands into Hamlin’s signature heart, and told Hamlin that the team loved him.
Hamlin replied almost immediately.
Tre’Davious White intercepts Mac Jones
At the start of the second half, with the Patriots driving deep into Bills territory, cornerback Tre’Davious White made a play on a fade route and intercepted quarterback Mac Jones to snuff out the scoring attempt. It was White’s first interception in more than a calendar year, in his sixth game since returning to the lineup following an ACL tear.
White is one of Buffalo’s veteran leaders in the secondary, and Hamlin was clearly thrilled to see White get back to his play-making ways.
T WEEZY!!!! WELCOME BACK 27!!!— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
Nyheim Hines returns another kickoff for a touchdown
Unbelievably, the Bills took the lead for good in this game when Hines — following a Nick Folk field goal that gave the Patriots a 17-14 lead — took a kickoff 101 yards for his second return touchdown of the game. That return kick-started a 17-6 Bills scoring run to close out the game, and Hines would tell reporters after the game that Hamlin was among the players in recent special teams meetings predicting a break-out performance in the return game.
HINES FREE— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
Stefon Diggs, Matt Milano, and Tremaine Edmunds close it out
After the Patriots scored a touchdown (missing a two-point conversion) to cut Buffalo’s lead to 28-23 early in the fourth quarter, the Bills put their foot on the gas pedal and closed the game out in style. Allen hit Stefon Diggs for a 49-yard score to extend the lead to 35-23, and after the Bills fumbled a punt to give the Patriots possession in their territory, linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds recorded interceptions on back-to-back New England possessions to put the game on ice. Hamlin shared his excitement for all three big plays.
14. The biggest of the biggest. ❤️— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
Ⓜ️att Ⓜ️ilano— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
Giving back to UC Medical Center
In typical Hamlin fashion, after the final whistle blew on the Bills’ victory, Hamlin used the moment to give back. He released a new t-shirt and announced that all proceeds from the sale of the shirt would be given to first responders at the UC Trauma Center — some of the very people who helped to save his life, and help him recover all of his faculties, over the past week.
We all won .— (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
I want to give back an ounce of the love y'all showed me. Proceeds of this shirt will go to first-responders and the UC Trauma Center.
Go get yours!https://t.co/YoDbBo6bzs pic.twitter.com/BQ6HHv5woF
What a day it was for Bills fans, and it was genuinely amazing knowing that Damar Hamlin experienced all of it right alongside us. We continue to send all of the positive vibes to Damar, his family, and the Bills organization as his recovery continues.