The National Football League announced Thursday that the postponed game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals from Monday night will not resume and will be considered a “no contest.”
The game was stopped near the middle of the first quarter after Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from an apparent cardiac arrest. He was down on the field for several minutes and administered multiple rounds of CPR before being taken to the hospital, as The Dallas Express reported.
He has since been making “remarkable improvement,” according to the team. Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed overnight Thursday, and he’s spoken to his teammates via video, the Bills said Friday morning.
The Bengals and the Bills had agreed to postpone the game with the possibility of resuming at a later date.
However, the league has decided that the game will not be resuming. This is partly due to the match-up having no bearing on which teams would qualify for the playoffs since both teams are already in.
Furthermore, resuming the game would have altered the playoff schedule for multiple teams. By not playing, teams looking to qualify for the playoffs or improve their seeding in their regular season finales will have greater clarity.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Thursday:
“This has been a very difficult week. 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.”
“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” he continued.
Competition is indeed fierce, particularly for the No.1 seed in the AFC playoffs, with the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Kansas City Chiefs all in contention. Kansas City currently holds the spot with a 13-3 record, but Buffalo (12-3) and Cincinnati (11-4) will have played one less game once the regular season is over.
To account for the discrepancy, NFL owners voted Friday to approve some conditional guidelines for the playoffs and the final week of the regular season.
Simply put, win percentages will still determine playoff seeding, but any playoff game between teams who could have earned the No.1 seed will be played on a neutral field.
Kansas City will get the top seed if the Chiefs and Bills win this week. Buffalo gets it with a win and a Chiefs loss. Cincinnati can claim it with a win if both Kansas City and Buffalo lose. But a playoff game between any two of those teams would be held at a neutral site.
Cincinnati has been declared the winner of the AFC North division because it will have a higher win percentage than the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens. However, if the Bengals had been able to play their full regular season schedule, Baltimore would have had a chance to catch them with a win this weekend.
Consequently, if Cincinnati and Baltimore face each other in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the home team and game site will be determined by a coin flip.