As soon as it became clear on Monday Night Football how serious Damar Hamlin‘s situation was, football and NFL playoff scenarios became unimportant, with the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills being postponed.
The AFC contest had only just started, with nine minutes having been played in the first quarter and with the Bengals 7-3 up, when Hamlin hit the ground with what is believed to be commotio cordis.
He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he “is currently sedated and listed in critical condition”, according to a Bills statement.
“Medical advice guided our decision,” NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte said when explaining the NFL’s decision to suspend and postpone the game.
“We remained in constant communication with both teams, medical personnel, game officials and ownership. We made decisions that we believed to be in the best interest of Damar‘s status and the state of both teams – players and staffs.
“There couldn’t have been more collaboration throughout this process by all parties.”
When will the Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills game resume?
After the decision to postpone the game, the Buffalo Bills delegation flew back home, although some players stayed behind in Ohio to be close to their teammate.
Rescheduling the game will be complicated given that this was already being played a day after the main Sunday slate and given that the 18th and final week of the season is coming up this weekend.
It’s also a complicated situation because these two teams were battling for the second seed and possibly the first seed in the AFC, with the Bills currently second with a 12-3 record and with the Bengals third at 11-4.
Despite the fact that this game could have major playoff implications, the NFL isn’t yet thinking about rescheduling.
“That’s not in consideration right now,” NFL VP of communications, public affairs and policy Jeff Miller said.
“Our concern is with the player and his wellbeing.
“At the appropriate time I’m sure we’ll have a conversation around the next steps regarding the game.”
Does the Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills game have to be finished?
One option would be to not finish this game, which would see both sides putting all their playoff seeing hopes on Week 18.
But, the NFL usually does try to get most games to be played to a conclusion.
“The NFL affirms the position that in most circumstances all regular-season and postseason games should be played to their conclusion,” the league’s rulebook states.
“If, in the opinion of appropriate League authorities, it is impossible to begin or continue a game due to an emergency, or a game is deemed to be imminently threatened by any such emergency (e.g., severely inclement weather, lightning, flooding, power failure), the following procedures (Articles 5 through 11) will serve as guidelines for the Commissioner and/or his duly appointed representatives.
“The Commissioner has the authority to review the circumstances of each emergency and to adjust the following procedures in whatever manner he deems appropriate.
“If, in the Commissioner’s opinion, it is reasonable to project that the resumption of an interrupted game would not change its ultimate result or adversely affect any other inter-team competitive issue, he is empowered to terminate the game.”
There is a chance, therefore, that this game could be left as unfinished.
If it does start back up, they’d resume where they left off, which was with the Bengals 7-3 up, in possession and with 5:58 on the clock in the first quarter.