The Patriots’ season is over.
Bills’ Nyheim Hines became the first NFL player to return to two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game since Leon Washington did it in Week 3 of the 2010 season and helped Buffalo to a 35-23 win Sunday at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.
New England finished the season 8-9. It could have still reached the playoffs despite the loss if both the Steelers and Dolphins lost as well Sunday. Instead, Pittsburgh beat the Browns and Miami beat the Jets to knock the Patriots out, making the Dolphins the No. 7 seed in the AFC.
Hines opened the game with a 96-yard return and then brought his second one back 101 yards in response to the Patriots’ lone lead of the game with 6:53 left in the third.
The Bills honored Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field during Buffalo’s Monday game at Cincinnati, before the game. Hamlin received life-saving measures including CPR on the field after what was later confirmed to be cardiac arrest and was rushed to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
After spending several days in critical condition, Hamlin is still at UC Medical, but has regained consciousness and is breathing on his own and was tweeting during the ceremony and the game, including his reaction to Hines’ opening kickoff return.
The game was tied at 14-14 at halftime and Nick Folk’s 24-yard field goal gave the Patriots a three-point lead with 7:06 left in the frame.
The lead lasted only as long as it took Hines to run 101 yards on the ensuing kickoff, which made it 21-17.
The Bills never trailed again.
Josh Allen hit John Brown for a 42-yard score late in the third for a 28-17 lead. The Patriots responded with an eight-play, 85-yard drive capped by a 26-yard TD pass from Mac Jones to DeVante Parker. The two-point attempt failed and New England trailed 28-23 with 11:37 left.
Allen then hit Stefon Diggs with a 49-yard toss to make it 35-23 with 8:51 left.
New England safety Devin McCourty earned a pair of turnovers – one interception and one fumble recovery, in what might be his final game in a Patriots uniform.
Jones finished 26 for 40 for 243 yards passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Parker had six catches for 79 yards.
Allen completed 19 of 31 pass attempts for 254 yards, three TDs and the McCourty interception. Diggs had seven catches for 104 yards and a score.
This content was originally published here.