Winter 2022

Damar Hamlin, Josh Allen praise God after Bills win to end regular season: 'God's real'

When the Buffalo Bills stepped on the field against the New England Patriots on Sunday, it had been three years and three months since they had scored a kick-return touchdown. Wearing a No. 3 patch on his jersey in honor of teammate Damar Hamlin, Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff β€” Buffalo’s first play since Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati β€” and raced 96 yards for a touchdown.

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Quarterback Josh Allen could only offer one explanation for the remarkable moment.

“It was just spiritual,” Allen said after the game. “I was just going around to my teammates saying, ‘God’s real.’ You can’t draw that one up, write that one up any better.”

Hines added a second kickoff return touchdown in the third quarter, and the Bills closed out the regular season with a 35-23 victory.

“I’m so thankful it was me to bring that juice, but it’s way bigger than me,” Hines told the media postgame. “And that’s what I always thought about, and that’s what I felt all day. It was just bigger than me and bigger than those 10 guys who did a great job of blocking for me.”

Hamlin cheered on his teammates from his hospital room in Cincinnati. A few hours before kickoff, he tweeted out a video in support of his team, saying in part, “God Using Me In A Different Way Today.” The song “Count Your Blessings” by Sunday Service Choir was featured in the video.

Hamlin declared in another tweet that God was behind the number three playing such a prominent role on the day the Bills were playing for their number three. Allen threw three touchdown passes, and the Bills defense had three interceptions.

Hamlin continues to make progress in his recovery and expects to be released from the hospital in the coming days, according to CNN. Allen encouraged everyone to keep praying for Hamlin.

“God is good. He really is. I just urge everybody to keep praying for (Hamlin),” Allen told CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson after the game. “He’s in good spirits. Hopefully he got to watch the game. I just hope he can feel the love and the emotion that everybody here in this stadium had for him. One of the more surreal stadium feelings I’ve ever been in. It was special.”

Reflecting on everything his team’s been through in the past week, head coach Sean McDermott praised God for the ways He’s been at work in such difficult circumstances.

“I’m a man of faith, and it’s just fun to watch and be around a good group of people that work so hard towards a common goal,” McDermott said in his postgame press conference. “And they care so much in this case about Damar and all their teammates. Like I said, God is so good, and I believe β€” obviously an unfortunate situation β€” but God has shown Himself through this situation in so many ways.”

Near the end of his press conference, McDermott was asked what he’s learned while helping lead the organization through all the uncertainty and trauma following Hamlin’s collapse. His answer centered around relying on God for guidance.

“When you get to situations like this, I really believe that God was showing us the way. … That’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but that’s how I honestly feel about it,” he said. “You’ve got to trust your gut and then ask God for the wisdom to move this team and lead this team in the right direction.”

Sunday’s win gave Buffalo (13-3) the No. 2 seed in the AFC and set up a wild-card-round matchup with the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The teams split their two meetings during the regular season.

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