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The Bills-Patriots will be filled with love and emotion for Damar Hamlin


When you pull back the thick layers of emotion that gripped the NFL last week — particularly in Buffalo — football games will take place on Sunday, the most notable of which involves the Bills and Patriots at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

It’s been a hell of a year for the Bills, who have endured adversity like few NFL teams have.

Historic snowstorms in the region claimed dozens of lives and disrupted the team’s schedule, forcing it to play a home game at a neutral stadium. There was the sudden death of tight end Dawson Knox’s younger brother in August. There was a fatal supermarket shooting that shook the region.

Then there was their beloved safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsing on the turf last Monday in Cincinnati, where his heart stopped after making a tackle, forcing medical personnel to save his life on the ground with CPR and leaving him in the hospital on life support. .

The tragic and chilling incident in Hamlin has left the Bills – and many other players from other teams in the league – much less interested in playing football than they were before this game started.

Jaguar fans hold up a sign with prayers of support for Damar Hamlin, but it will be more emotional Sunday in Buffalo when Bills fans can show their love for Hamlin before and during their game against the Patriots.
Jaguars fans hold up a sign with prayers of support for Damar Hamlin, but it will be more emotional Sunday in Buffalo when Bills fans can show their love for Hamlin before and during their game against the Patriots.

But news of Hamlin’s remarkable recovery over the past week – evidenced by the fact that he was taken off the ventilator, able to breathe on his own and then speak to teammates via FaceTime on Friday – has come back to the surface. the morale of his teammates beyond belief.

“I love you boys,” Hamlin told them.

This, in many ways, provided as much relief as a release for his friends to return to football.

Bills quarterback and team leader Josh Allen, asked if he thinks the team is physically and emotionally ready to play again, told reporters, “Yes.”

Allen spoke about an inspirational message Hamlin’s father, Mario, delivered to the team on Wednesday, telling them his son would want them to play.

“He asked us [to play] …and you can’t not honor his request to go out there and move on,” Allen said.

“His message was that the team needed to focus on the goals they set for themselves,” Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said. “Damar would have wanted it that way. We owe it to Damar, and we owe it to his family.

The game is odd in that the 12-3 Bills have less of a stake in the game than the 8-8 Patriots, who must win to qualify for the playoffs.

The Bills have already clinched their third consecutive AFC East title, but their chances of winning the AFC playoff top seed have been reduced as their game in Cincinnati was canceled following Hamlin’s injury. , then fell apart when the Chiefs beat the Raiders on Saturday to clinch the top spot at 14-3.

A victory for the Patriots would secure them their 13th place finish in the playoffs in 14 seasons. But the Patriots are in a tough spot, not only because Buffalo is the better team, but also because Highmark Stadium is going to be emotionally charged.

“Everyone individually will have to deal with it like we did,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters during the week. “[We] expect it to be an emotional scene and at the end we are going to play our best game of football there. I think everyone understands that there is a balance and that there are several things going on there.

McDermott said Belichick was among many NFL coaches who reached out to offer support after Hamlin’s injury, saying, “I certainly appreciate his thoughts and prayers.”

Since Tom Brady left New England, the Bills are 5-1 against the Patriots, outscoring them 176-92 and by an average score of 29-15. Allen threw for 15 touchdowns for a single interception in those games with a passer rating of 114.2 while New England quarterbacks threw three touchdowns and four interceptions with a passer rating of 66.7.

So, it looks like a potentially tough day on the field for the Patriots and an emotional day for everyone in the Buffalo area, where so much has happened over the past few months.

“How do I know we’ll be able to win?” McDermott said. “We have to…just like we have many times before, and this city, and the people of western New York who have faced what they have done. That’s what you do. That’s what Western New York and Buffalo Bills fans…that’s what we do.




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