The Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will not be resumed, the NFL announced in a statement released on Thursday. The matchup has been declared a no-contest and will therefore not count in either club’s standings.
The Monday night game in Cincinnati was suspended in the first quarter. With the Bengals up 7-3, Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after a routine play; as was later revealed he had suffered cardiac arrest and had to receive CPR on the field.
Hamlin was transported to a local hospital and has since shown encouraging progress. The game itself was suspended an hour following Hamlin’s collapse.
The league had originally announced that play would not be resumed this week, and has now canceled it altogether. Per an NFL press release, three factors contributed to this decision:
- Not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.
- It would require postponing the start of the playoffs for one week, thereby affecting all 14 clubs that qualify for postseason play.
- Making the decision prior to Week 18 is consistent with our competitive principles and enables all clubs to know the playoff possibilities prior to playing the final weekend of regular season games.
In order to address in what the NFL called “competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios” a special league meeting will be held to vote on a resolution that would address them. Among the proposed solutions is playing the AFC Championship Game at a neutral site in case the participating games teams played an unequal number of games.
“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”
As for the two games affected by the cancelation, they will play their next games on Sunday. The Bills will host the New England Patriots, while the Bengals will welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Cincinnati.