N.F.L. Cancels Bills-Bengals Game
The game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals that was suspended Monday night after the Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field will not be completed, the N.F.L. announced Thursday.
Hamlin, a 24-year-old starting safety for Buffalo, went into cardiac arrest after making what appeared to be a routine tackle during the game’s first quarter. Hamlin is still in critical condition, but the doctors treating him at a Cincinnati hospital said on Thursday that Hamlin was awake and able to communicate in writing.
On Monday night, medical professionals worked on Hamlin for several minutes to restore his heartbeat on the field. After he was taken away in an ambulance, Bengals Coach Zac Taylor crossed the field to confer with Bills Coach Sean McDermott and the game officials.
Taylor later said McDermott had told him, “I need to be at the hospital for Damar, and I shouldn’t be coaching this game.” The players headed back to the locker rooms, and at around 10 p.m. — about an hour after Hamlin collapsed — the game was suspended.
The N.F.L. said on Tuesday that the game would not be resumed this week but that it had not made a decision on when or whether it would be rescheduled.
The game was stopped nine minutes into play, with the Bengals leading, 7-3, and would have had implications for postseason seeding in the A.F.C. Both teams,along with Kansas City (13-3), were vying for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.
With the game’s cancellation, the Bills (12-3) and Bengals (11-4) will each have played one fewer game than the other teams in the N.F.L. The league’s 32 clubs will meet on Friday to consider a proposal with two adjustments to the A.F.C. playoffs that were recommended by N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell and approved by the competition committee.
When the N.F.L. played the 2020 season in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, clubs understood there was a possibility that some games could be canceled and they might have to accept uneven standings because of the unique circumstances. That did not happen, because the N.F.L. played a complete schedule that season. But this is a concept teams have contemplated before, and one they are almost certain to go along with, given the gravity of this week’s events.