The Week 17 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills will be canceled, the NFL announced Thursday night. The game was suspended in the first quarter on Monday after Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrested.
“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
The decision comes as the league decided the outcome does not change who qualifies for the playoffs nor alter their schedules and allows all teams to know postseason possibilities before Week 18 starts.
Buffalo (12-3) was tied for the top record in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs (now 13-3) entering Week 17 but held the head-to-head tiebreaker. Cincinnati (11-4) trailed both teams by one game, but a win over the Bills would have given them a three-way tiebreaker. In a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, the Bengals, now the AFC North champions, defeated the Chiefs in Week 13.
Because of the canceled game, the league’s owners will vote Friday on scenarios approved by the competition committee Thursday that entail a neutral site for an AFC Championship Game, with 24 of 32 needed (three-fourths majority) to approve. You can learn about the scenarios here.