After postponing the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills game Monday night following Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has informed both teams that the game will not be played this week.
In a statement issued by the NFL, the league said that it continues to be in contact with the medical team that is caring for Hamlin, who remains in critical condition while receiving support at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after sustaining a hit with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter of Monday night's game. The NFL elected to postpone the game roughly an hour after Hamlin was transported off the field via an ambulance.
NFL executive Jeff Miller said Wednesday that discussions about what to do with the Bills-Bengals matchup are ongoing, and that a decision will be made, "in the coming days," per CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. The Bengals are slated to host the Ravens on Sunday, while the Bills are set to host the Patriots on Sunday.
NFL executive Troy Vincent said there have not been discussions about postponing the Bills-Patriots game (via Pro Football Talk), but he did not rule it out and said the well-being of Buffalo's players and coaches will guide the decisions the league makes.
"Everything is being considered," Vincent said in regard to the rest of the NFL schedule, noting that the league may have to lean on COVID-19 principles, including "value of winning and winning percentage," (via NFL Media).
"Potentially, there may be a lack of equity, and it may not be perfect, but it would allow those who have earned that opportunity to continue to play," he added (via ESPN).
Monday night's matchup had significant stakes for both team's playoff aspirations. For Buffalo, a win would move the team a step further toward clinching the No. 1 seed in the conference. If the Bills were to then beat the Patriots in Week 18 or see the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, they'd secure home field. Meanwhile, a Bengals win would give them the AFC North title. It would also keep them with an outside shot at the top seed themselves. In that case, they would need a Week 18 win against Baltimore as well as a Chiefs loss to the Raiders.
Cincinnati held a 7-3 lead before play was stopped. And while football will eventually resume, the thoughts and energies of both teams -- as well as the league's other 30 teams and fan bases -- continue to center around Hamlin and his family.
"On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time," Hamlin's family said in a statement that was issued late Tuesday morning. "We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans around the country.
"We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they've done.
"Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them."