NFL

The Bills-Bengals game will not restart amid Damar Hamlin’s continued recovery

The Bills-Bengals game will not restart amid Damar Hamlin’s continued recovery

CINCINNATI — Game of the week 17 flares and invoices has been canceled and will not continue, the league announced Thursday night.

Monday’s game was suspended with less than six minutes left in the first quarter after a Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin He had a cardiac arrest after making a precedent. A heartbeat was restored on the field before he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“It’s been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday. “We remain focused on Damar Hamlin’s recovery and are encouraged by the improvement in his condition and the outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also extremely grateful for the amazing work of the medical staff and commend each and every one of them.”

The doctors said that earlier Hamlin has shown “significant improvement.” including communicating in writing and moving his hands and feet, even though he remains critically ill.

In announcing the decision to cancel the game, the NFL cited three key factors: The result would have no bearing on which teams qualify for the postseason; playing the match would change the elimination schedule of the other teams; and not playing a game would allow all clubs to learn about their postseason options before Week 18 begins.

At the time of the stoppage, the Bengals were leading 7-3. NFL officials said there were no plans to resume games Monday after Hamlin collapsed and was taken to the hospital.

Buffalo (12-3) entered Week 17 tied Kansas City Chiefs (now 13-3) for the best record in the AFC but held to a head-to-head tie. Cincinnati (11-4) trailed both teams by one game, but would hold on to a three-way tie with a win over the Bills. The Bengals, the current AFC North champions, beat the Chiefs in Week 13 in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game.

Because of the canceled game, the league’s owners will vote Friday — 24 of 32 are needed (a three-quarters majority) to approve — by the competition committee on Thursday’s scenarios involving a neutral site for an AFC Championship Game. These are based on the results of week 18:

• If Buffalo and Kansas City both win or tie, the Bills-Chiefs championship game will be at a neutral site.

• If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties, the Bills-Chiefs championship game will be at a neutral site.

• If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, Bills or Bengals vs. The Chiefs championship game will be at a neutral site.

Potential neutral sites have not yet been determined. The seeds will hold during the playoffs.

If Buffalo and Kansas City both win this weekend, the Chiefs will have a bye. If Buffalo wins and Kansas City loses, the Bills will be the No. 1 seed and get a bye, and no neutral site would come into play.

if Baltimore Ravens win and are matched up against Cincinnati in an AFC wild-card game, the site will be determined by a coin toss. If Cincinnati wins or if the two teams are not matched against each other after a possible Ravens win, the regular scheduling procedures will go into effect.

Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn is on the competition committee, and approved the scenarios Thursday. In a statement obtained by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, Blackburn urged board members to vote against the scenarios. His reasoning stemmed from the timing of the rule change away from the winning percentages used in this scenario.

“The proper process for making a rule change (sic) is in the offseason,” Blackburn wrote. “It is not appropriate to put teams in a position to vote for something that could cause bias, that could favor one team over another or affect their position when the vote is taken before the playoffs.”

In his statement, Goodell said he recognizes that “there is no perfect solution.”

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive disparities,” he said.

On Wednesday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the team was preparing to face the Ravens as the league considered the future of the Bills-Bengals rivalry.

“We’re going to leave those decisions up to those who want to make them,” Taylor said. “All we have in front of us right now is getting ready for Baltimore on Sunday.”

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow he said it would be difficult to reschedule the match.

“I think what Buffalo would want to do would be what we would want to do, too,” Burrow said Wednesday. “We are behind them 100% and we support them in everything they decide to do in the future.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano contributed to this report.



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