The Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots in an emotional Week 18 game that they dedicated to safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered cardiac arrest during Monday's game. Hamlin continues to make progress, as he watched Sunday's game from the hospital and doctors say his neurological function is "excellent."
Players came out wearing a No. 3 patch, Hamlin shirts and his No. 3 in the "30" yard marker was outlined in blue. Players were clearly emotional ahead of the game, as they prepared to play their first snaps since the scary scene.
Following the Bills' 35-23 win, players gave shoutouts to Hamlin and expressed that the win was for No. 3.
Josh Allen was moved by the first play of the game, a 96-yard kickoff return from Nyheim Hines. The touchdown left the Bills sideline celebrating more than usual. It had been three years and three months since the last time a Bills player returned a kickoff for a touchdown, something Hamlin does not believe is a coincidence.
"You can't draw that one up, write that one up any better … it's been three years and three months," Allen said, as he began to shed tears, "since the last kickoff return so it's pretty cool."
3 is a special number. #ForDamar | #LoveForDamar pic.twitter.com/itjpxQ4wKv— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 8, 2023
During the postgame press conference, Tremaine Edmunds said, "This game is bigger than us … I was just glad we were able to do it for Damar."
Edmunds said head coach Sean McDermott has "top notch leadership," complimenting the way he navigated his team through such a difficult week.
Tre'Davious White gave a shoutout to Hamlin and Bills' fans after the win.
"Shoutout to Bills Mafia baby, we got a dub, off to the playoffs. We did it for 3. You see it right here? Right here?" he said, showing his No. 3 patches. "We represent for you baby. On to the playoffs we got Miami. We got work to do, but we're gonna celebrate this one for 24 hours and back to work baby. Go Bills."
Other players shared messages to Hamlin, who watched the game and was tweeting along from his hospital bed in Cincinnati.
What they said‼️#ForDamar | #LoveForDamar pic.twitter.com/B08TVc9ZkJ— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 8, 2023
The Bills secured the No. 2 seed in the AFC with the win and will face the Miami Dolphins next week in the wild-card round of the playoffs.