Bills-Bengals contest will not resume, NFL says

  • ESPN Staff Writer
  • Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
  • University of North Texas graduate

CINCINNATI — The Week 17 game between the Bengals and Bills will not be continued, the NFL announced on Thursday.

Monday’s game was suspended with less than six minutes left in the first quarter when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle. His heartbeat was restored on the field before he was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Doctors said Thursday that Hamlin has shown “substantial improvement,” including communicating through writing and moving his hands and feet, though he remains considered critically ill.

“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release announcing the cancellation. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”

Goodell made the decision not to resume the game in part because its outcome would not affect whether teams qualified for or were eliminated from the postseason and because playing the game would require postponing the postseason, according to the release. He spoke with both the Bills and Bengals as well as the NFL Players Association before making his decision.

At the time of the stoppage, the Bengals were leading 7-3. NFL officials have maintained that there were no plans for the game to continue Monday following Hamlin’s collapse and transportation to the hospital.

Buffalo entered Week 17 tied with Kansas City for the best record in the AFC but held the head-to-head tiebreaker. Cincinnati trailed both teams by one game but would have held a three-way tiebreaker with a win over Buffalo. The Bengals beat the Chiefs in Week 13 in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.

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

“We’ll let those decisions take place among those who want to make them,” Taylor said. “All that is really in front of us right now is to get ready for Baltimore on Sunday.”

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said rescheduling the game would be difficult.

“I think whatever Buffalo would want to do would be what we would want to do as well,” Burrow said Wednesday. “We’re behind them 100% and support them in whatever they would decide to do going forward.”

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