OPINION: An unforgettable day for Bills, fans everywhere

On a day filled with emotion, the Bills played for a fallen teammate and produced a spirit-lifting victory

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - I had no idea what to expect from Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, other than it would be an extremely emotional day for everyone involved. I don't think anyone knew how things might play out, including the Buffalo Bills' coaches and players.

The emotion was there from the beginning.

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During pregame warmups, members of both teams came out wearing shirts showing their support for Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

Hamlin, himself, was posting messages on his Twitter and Instagram from his hospital bed in Cincinnati. One post was a picture of Hamlin with his parents as they prepared to watch the Bills game from Hamlin's room at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

When it was time for the Bills to come out for the game, numerous players had flags with either the No. 3 or "Pray for Damar" displayed, as they ran out of the tunnel and onto the field to a thunderous ovation.

I'm sure you've heard of the term "Hollywood ending", but have you ever heard of a "Hollywood beginning"?

We certainly got one thanks to Nyheim Hines and the Bills kick return team. I don't think script writers would have come up with a 96-yard return for touchdown on the very first play of the game. That would have been too over the top even for Hollywood.

But the football Gods smiled down on the Bills, and it was the first kick return for a touchdown by the Bills in three years and three months.

Yes, the power of No. 3!

It's a good thing the special teams came through, because the Bills needed all the points they produced. The offense had an uneven day, but it was great to see the return of the deep passing game.

It had almost completely disappeared from the Bills' offense during the second half of the season. Big pass plays are completions that go for 25-or-more yards.

Josh Allen and Co. produced three of those while beating New England for the fourth-straight time, and sixth time in the last seven meetings. The Bills had just two of those big pass plays in the previous four games combined.

Two of the big plays from Sunday were majestic bombs from Allen that went for touchdowns.

The first was a 42-yard strike to John Brown, who made a great catch on the play. It was vintage Allen, as he threw on the run to his right and put the throw out there for a receiver to make a play.

The second bomb for a touchdown essentially put the game away. Allen, throwing from the right hash, hit Stefon Diggs streaking down the left sideline for a 49-yard score. It was estimated the ball traveled 62 yards in the air, and Allen made the throw look effortless.

Again, vintage Allen.

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By the way, the two touchdown passes of 20-plus yards doubled the number of those the Bills had recorded over the previous eight games.

There should have been a third deep ball for six, but Gabe Davis dropped, what would have been, a 49-yard touchdown. A 28-yard non-scoring throw to Khalil Shakir was the other big pass play.

Throw in three interceptions from the defense - there's the No. 3 again - and it all added up to a franchise record-tying 13th win and the No. 2 seed for the Bills in the AFC playoffs.

That really is an amazing accomplishment in, what has been, the most challenging regular season for any Bills team.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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