Bills’ Nyheim Hines: ‘Felt like Damar Hamlin was out there with us’

The Bills beat the Patriots in NFL Week 18  to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture and did so in aerial fashion.

Buffalo got the scoring started right off the bat thanks to a trade deadline acquisition GM Brandon Beane brought in to stabilize the teams’ kick return duties while adding depth at the running back position.

On Sunday, RB Nyheim Hines made good on the returns on that deal.  Literally.

It started on the opening kickoff to the game, when Hines took it 96 yards to the house for a touchdown at a max speed of 21.25 mph which was good for a career-high carrying.

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And it didn’t end there.

If you might be wondering how Hines could top a game-opening 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown? How about a 101-yard return to give the Bills another lead yet again in the third-quarter…

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He became the first player in Bills franchise history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game, while also becoming the first Bill to log 235 kick return yards in a single game as well. Hines also became the first NFL player in history to have a game with 2 punt-return TDs and a game with 2 kickoff-return TDs in his career.

Buffalo improved to 13-3 in the regular season, matching a franchise-best mark during an emotional week that culminated in an inspired performance in lieu of everything that had occurred with Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

“It was spiritual,” Hines said after the game. “I felt like he [Damar Hamlin] was out there with us.”

On the field, Hines became the 1st player since Leon Washington (2010) to have 2 kickoff-return TDs in the same game.

Quarterback Josh Allen added three additional passing touchdowns to the cause in the victory. After the game though, he opened up about Hines’s return and what he felt and experienced.

“Obviously, that first kickoff, and you couldn’t have scripted it any better man, that one was pretty emotional. Just the way it happened,” Allen said during his postgame press conference. “You want the truth? It was spiritual it really was. Bone-chilling like, it was special”

While sharing how he’d just been told it’d been 3 years and 3 months since the Bills last returned a kickoff for a TD, Allen became visibly emotional, per Hamlin’s jersey number three.

And when asked where the memory ranked in his memory of experiences, he opened up further, saying “I can’t remember a play like that touched me like that, I don’t think in my life. So it’s probably number one.”

Instead of Bills special teams coach Matthew Smiley or Hines himself, Allen pointed to something greater behind the experience.

“It was just spiritual,” Allen added after a week of prayers around the league and sports world. “I was going around my team saying ‘God’s real’. You can’t draw that one up, you can’t write that one up any better.”

With a win against the Jets on Sunday, low-temperature enthusiast and Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel and his club will return to Highmark Stadium to face the Bills in the wild-card first round of the NFL playoffs next weekend, having lost to Buffalo during their most recent visit.

As seen today for the Bills, having an explosive and reliable return man can make a significant impact on the overall game, giving the team momentum they’ll need going into the playoffs.

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Story originally appeared on Bills Wire