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Nyheim Hines, emotional Bills jolt Patriots, claim No. 2 seed

Jan 8, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is pressured by New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) in the first quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Nyheim Hines returned two kickoffs for touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills closed the regular season with a 35-23 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Hines scored from 96 and 101 yards out to become the 11th player in NFL history with two kickoff return touchdowns in the same game.

With the victory, Buffalo (13-3) clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Patriots (8-9) were eliminated from postseason contention with their loss and Miami’s 11-6 win against the New York Jets.

The game was the first for the Bills since safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mac Jones connected with DeVante Parker for a 26-yard score with 11:37 left to play to pull New England within 28-23. But Josh Allen found Stefon Diggs for a 49-yard touchdown just under three minutes later for Buffalo.

Allen completed 19 of 31 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Diggs hauled in seven receptions for 104 yards and a score.

Jones finished with 243 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions on 26-for-40 passing. Parker had six catches for 79 yards and a pair of scores, and Rhamondre Stevenson had 54 yards on six carries to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

Each team had a turnover to open the second half before Nick Folk made good on a 24-yard field goal to give New England a 17-14 edge.

Hines then recorded his second touchdown return and Allen hit John Brown for a 42-yard score and a 28-17 advantage.

After Jones made it 14-14 with a 2-yard scoring strike to Parker, the Bills drove to the New England 15 but couldn’t put up points before the break. Allen was hit as he threw, lofting a ball over the middle that was picked off by Devin McCourty with 16 seconds left in the first half.

Hines returned the opening kickoff to put Buffalo on the board, but the Patriots responded on their second drive of the game. Jakobi Meyers capped the nine-play, 74-yard march with a stunning 2-yard TD reception, tapping his toes just inside the end line for his third score in as many games.

–Field Level Media