Damar Hamlin watched from the hospital as the Buffalo Bills scored a thrilling 35-23 victory over the New England Patriots in their first game since suffering a cardiac arrest.
Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after collapsing after colliding with Tee Higgins in the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. This game will not be restarted.
Security showed continued signs of improvement and he was able to chat with his teammates via video call while preparing for the game.
He was an avid spectator because after the pre-game displays of support for Hamlin, including Buffalo coming out of the tunnel and huddling in midfield, the Bills got off to a remarkable start.
Nyheim Hines gave the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. New England responded well, with touchdowns from Mac Jones to Jakob Meyers and DeVante Parker, coupled with a touchdown from Dawson Knox, to tie the teams 14-14.
New England, who only needed a win to qualify for the postseason, took the lead on Nick Folk’s field goal after a Devin Singletary fumble.
However, Hines hit again, taking another kickoff back 101 yards, becoming the first player since Leon Washington in 2010 to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in the same game.
A stunning 42-yard shot on the move from Josh Allen to John Brown extended the Bills lead, and although Parker answered for New England, another deep ball from Allen to Stefon Diggs proved to be the decisive blow, with Jones’ pair of fourth-quarter interceptions ending the Patriots’ hopes.
This means that the Bills, following the agreed changes to the AFC playoffs following the cancellation of the game against the Bengals, will not have to play a postseason away game. As the second seed, they have home-court advantage for the first two rounds, and if they face single-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, it will be at a neutral spot.
This first home game will be against the Miami Dolphins, who capitalized on the Patriots’ defeat by beating the New York Jets 11-6 to secure a playoff spot. The Pittsburgh Steelers were also eliminated, defeating the Cleveland Browns 28-14.
Bengals avoid the coin toss
The Bengals also won their first game since Monday’s traumatic scenes, defeating the Baltimore Ravens 27-16. Despite being champions of the AFC North, the Bengals would not be guaranteed a playoff home game against the Ravens if they lost this second regular season fixture, with the venue decided by a coin toss as part of agreed substitutions.
They rarely looked like they would meet such a fate in a game controlled by Cincinnati. A win for the Bengals means they will reunite with Baltimore in the play-offs next week, and that will be in Cincinnati. The Bengals made no secret of their displeasure at the coin toss decision, with escaped Joe Mixon pretending to flip a coin after scoring Cincinnati’s first touchdown.
The Texans win but lose number one
The Houston Texans would lock in the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but their current playerbase showed no respect for their long-term future in an exciting finale.
On his fourth attempt and 20th in the last chance saloon, quarterback Davis Mills hit from 28 yards to Jordan Akins, who then caught a two-point conversion to seal a 32–31 victory in what may have been head coach Lovie Smith’s last game. The win saw the number one pick go to Smith’s former team, the Chicago Bears, who had lost at home to the Minnesota Vikings.