Bills score kickoff return against Patriots as Hamlin shows support from hospital

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The Buffalo Bills returned the opening kickoff against the New England Patriots for a touchdown in their first play since Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest.

Nyheim Hines 96-yard kick return came in an emotionally charged game in Buffalo, with Hamlin taking to social media to confirm he was watching on from hospital.

Hamlin has shown improvement across the week, though he remains in critical condition.

Ahead of kickoff in the Bills' regular-season finale at Highmark Stadium, the 24-year-old sent a good luck message to his team-mates as they prepared for their last game before the playoffs.

"Game day," he tweeted. "Nothing I want more than to be running out [of] that tunnel with my brothers.

"God [is] using me in a different way today. Tell someone you love them today! Let's go."

Players warmed up in shirts sporting Hamlin's number three ahead of kick-off, with tributes on and off the field from players and supporters as they showed their support for the safety.