Bills’ Damar Hamlin injured vs. Bengals: What we know now

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains hospitalized after he suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field during the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

The Bills confirmed on social media overnight that Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field, and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. The team said Hamlin is in critical condition.

More than an hour after the medical emergency occurred, putting a pause on play, the NFL officially postponed the game. The Bills’ buses departed Paycor Stadium shortly after midnight and the team flew back to Buffalo.

The NFL announced Tuesday the Bengals-Bills game will not resume this week. No decision has been made regarding the possibility of finishing it at a later date.

Bengals issue statement

Bengals President Mike Brown released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.

“First and foremost, the Bengals continue to send thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family. Our hearts are with everyone in this unprecedented time — what we can do is support one another.

“Last night was supposed to be a great night for the NFL and a great showcase for our hometown. Instead, the human side of our sport became paramount ... and in that moment, humanity and love rose to the forefront.

“As medical personnel undertook extraordinary measures, both teams demonstrated respect and compassion while fans in the stadium and people around the country bolstered the support for Damar and love for each other.

“The Bengals are thankful for the love and compassion shown by all. Praying for Damar.”

Statement from the Hamlin family

Hamlin’s mother, Nina, was at the game Monday and left the stadium in the ambulance with her son. On Tuesday morning, the family issued a statement, shared through his marketing representative and friend, Jordon Rooney.

“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time,” the family said in the statement. “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.”

The family will release updates as soon as they are available.

Bengals-Bills will not resume this week

The Cincinnati Bengals game against the Buffalo Bills will not resume this week, the NFL announced Tuesday, but no decision has been made regarding the possibility of finishing it at a later time.

Play was suspended with 5:58 left in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and needed resuscitated on the field Monday at Paycor Stadium. He had taken a blow to the chest while trying to make a routine tackle, but initially got back up before collapsing backward, not showing any movement after hitting the turf.

After several minutes of medical attention, Hamlin, a 24-year-old out of the University of Pittsburgh, was taken via ambulance to the hospital. The Bills confirmed overnight that Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored but he remained in critical condition at UC Medical Center.

“The NFL continues to be in regular contact with the medical team caring for Damar Hamlin, and also the Bills and Bengals organizations and the NFL Players Association,” the NFL said in a statement. “After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the clubs today that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week.”

The Bengals and Bills were playing for home field advantage in the playoffs, and Cincinnati had a chance to clinch the AFC North title with a win or tie. Both teams are scheduled to play their regular-season finale Sunday. Cincinnati will host Baltimore and Buffalo will host New England.

The league has not made any changes to the Week 18 regular season schedule.

What happened

Hamlin, a 24-year-old out of the University of Pittsburgh, made a seemingly routine tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins but in the process took a blow to the chest. After wrapping Higgins to the ground, Hamlin stood up, appeared to adjust his facemask, and almost immediately collapsed backward to the ground.

Players saw Hamlin motionless on the turf and called for medical assistance from the sideline, and medical personnel immediately got to work trying to revive the player, using the league’s Emergency Action Plan that is in place for all games. A defibrillator was used and CPR administered, along with use of an IV and oxygen, before Hamlin eventually was loaded into an ambulance and taken to UC Medical Center.

Hamlin was receiving medical attention for 19 minutes before the ambulance left the field.

The NFL sent out at a statement indicating Hamlin was in critical condition, and the Bills reported in their overnight statement that he was sedated. FOX19′s Joe Danneman reported Hamlin had a pulse upon leaving the stadium but was not breathing on his own.

The decision to postpone

After Hamlin departed via ambulance, players from both teams began warming up as though they might be expected to resume play. ESPN at that time reported the teams were given five minutes to get ready.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor crossed the field and approached Bills coach Sean McDermott, and the two spot with officials before signaling to their players to return to their respective locker rooms. About 35 minutes later, the game officially was postponed.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said head official Shawn Smith had individually spoken to both coaches prior to that group meeting about whether the teams would like to go back to the locker rooms to discuss the situation. Smith was communicating with the league in real-time throughout the process. Once the teams went to the locker rooms, the league remained in communication with the coaches to get a pulse on how the teams were feeling.

“It was fluid and things were changing by the minute,” Vincent said. “Emotions, you can imagine, in both locker rooms, and I commend both of those coaches. Tough situation to go back in and look at 53 men in the locker room and not that they asked but just to try and calm people down. It was obvious on the phone with them that the emotions were extremely high. It was a very volatile situation and I thought the coaches, they led tonight. They led their locker rooms. So that was the communication, through (Shawn Smith) on the field and as the coaches went back to their locker rooms, no more communication with the referee. It was direct communication with both coaches and their communication staffs.”

The NFL Referees Association sent out a statement on Tuesday morning indicating its support of the game being postponed.

“On behalf of the NFL officials working the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game last night, we offer our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for Damar Hamlin,” the statement read. “Additionally, we commend the emergency medical staff and doctors who quickly responded on the field to Damar’s serious health issue. Like the players and coaches, our officials fully supported the suspension of this game as all attention needed to be focused on Damar’s health.”

Will the game resume?

Vincent and other NFL officials on the conference call made clear that Hamlin’s health and the emotional well-being of team personnel was at the forefront of the concern, but the league now faces a tough decision about what’s next.

The Bengals were leading 7-3 with 5:58 left in the first quarter when play halted, and the teams were playing for home field advantage in the playoffs with just one more week left in the regular season. Cincinnati had a chance to clinch the AFC North title with a win and would have moved up to the second seed in the AFC. Buffalo was trying to retain the No. 1 seed.

“That’s not in consideration right now,” NFL executive VP of communications, public affairs and policy Jeff Miller said when asked if the game will be finished. “Our concern is for the player and his well-being. At the appropriate time, I’m sure that we’ll have a conversation around the next steps regarding the game.”

Both teams are scheduled to play their regular-season finale Sunday. The Bills returned home to Buffalo with the exception of those players who decided to stay behind with Hamlin. The Bengals had a scheduled day off Tuesday before preparations for the Week 18 game against Baltimore were expected to begin Wednesday.

The league has not yet provided an update on plans.

Support for Hamlin

An outpouring of support for Hamlin continued Monday night and into Tuesday morning on social media with players posting of continued prayers for the player, and Hamlin’s “Chasing M’s Foundation” toy drive fundraiser, which he set up in 2020 on, had raised more than $3.5 million since his collapse.

The fund had a goal to raise $2,500 but was sitting at around $3,000, and as of late Tuesday morning, more than $3.9 million had been raised, along with well-wishes for Hamlin.

Bills fans also were sharing Higgins’ “My Cleats, My Cause” charity link to support AXE ALS after the Bengals wide receiver showed his own distress following the hit.

Paycor Stadium’s lights turned blue Monday night in support for the Bills and Hamlin, and Bengals coach Zac Taylor was spotted by journalists at UC Medical Center.

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