Bills HC McDermott 'wasn't surprised' by storybook Hines kickoff return TD

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Sean McDermott expected something special from kickoff after the Buffalo Bills' difficult week and Nyheim Hines duly delivered with a remarkable return touchdown.

The Bills endured the most challenging of weeks after Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest on the field forced last Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals to be suspended and ultimately abandoned.

Hamlin has remained in a critical condition but has made significant progress in recent days, and watched Sunday's game against the New England Patriots from hospital.

The Bills claimed a 35-23 victory to clinch their playoff spot, with the first piece of action being a storybook 96-yard opening kickoff return TD from Hines. That marked the Bills' first kickoff return touchdown since 2019.

"To be honest, I thought in the days leading up to the game wouldn’t it be special if we could take that opening kickoff," coach McDermott told reporters.

"When it happened, respectfully, I wasn't surprised just by the way the week has gone."

Hamlin tweeted "OMFG!!!!!!" after the stunning move.

Hines sensationally achieved a second kickoff return touchdown in the third quarter when the Bills trailed 17-14.

Bills QB Josh Allen was emotional when he spoke about Hines' opening TD: "I can't remember a play that touched me like that. It's probably number one.

"You can't draw that one up any better. I just got told it's been three years and three months since the last kickoff return so pretty cool."

Buffalo cornerback Tre'Davious White offered an insight into the challenge for the players returning to action for the first time, given the trauma from Hamlin's on-field collapse and subsequent resuscitation.

"I don't know how some of us did it because some of us had a different view of what went on and that's traumatising," White said.

"I was telling someone earlier I've seen traumatic things in my life, just growing up where I grew up at, and in the environment I've been raised in, but it was always the end result of me walking up and seeing it.

"It was never a time I saw every event, everything transpire until the end. It's tough, man. It's a lot."

McDermott added that Hamlin would not only inspire the Bills' postseason push, having secured a Wild Card game at Highmark Stadium against the seventh seed Miami Dolphins, but also the wider community.

"I think we would all agree, that guy's hand is in this and has been in it from the first moment," he said.

"I think, I should say this, when you watch how, at times, divided we can be as a country and a world, I think the thing we all recognised this week is when people can put love first and people first and come together, how powerful this country and this world can be for the good."