The league announced Thursday that the postponed Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game will not be made up due to the terrifying collapse of safety Damar Hamlin.
Due to Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, the NFL has canceled the Bills – Bengals game
Related: Joe Burrow discusses his conversations with Josh Allen following the Damar Hamlin tragedy
The NFL admitted that canceling the game “creates potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios,” and said NFL clubs will discuss a resolution at a special league meeting on Friday.
According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “this has been a very difficult week,” and the league is focused on Hamlin’s recovery.
Due to the canceled game, the Bills and Bengals will have played 16 games, while the rest of the NFL will have played 17.
The Bills had long since won the AFC East and were in contention for the conference’s top seed. Buffalo now trails 13-3 Kansas City for the AFC’s top spot, which comes with a first-round playoff bye.
If the Bills had won on Monday night, they would have tied the Chiefs for the most wins while also holding a tiebreaker over them.
This weekend, Buffalo will face New England, Cincinnati will face Baltimore, and Kansas City will face Las Vegas.
The AFC Championship Game would be played at a neutral site under three scenarios in the resolution to be considered by NFL teams on Friday, according to the NFL:
If Buffalo and Kansas City both win or tie, the championship game will be played at a neutral site.
If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties, the game will be played at a neutral site.
If both Buffalo and Kansas City lose and Cincinnati wins, the championship game between Buffalo and Kansas City will be played at a neutral site.
Another factor is if Baltimore defeats Cincinnati, according to the NFL. In that case, Baltimore would not host a playoff game because Cincinnati will have a higher winning percentage based on the number of games each team has played.
If Baltimore defeats Cincinnati and both teams advance to the Wild Card round, a coin toss will determine who hosts.
The game between the first-place Bills and the Bengals was called off shortly after 10 p.m. ET on Monday, with the NFL stating that it had been “postponed,” leaving the door slightly ajar for Buffalo and Cincinnati to resume play at a later date.
The Bengals were up 7-3 in the first quarter when Hamlin went down.
After tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin collapsed. The game appeared routine as Hamlin quickly stood up and briefly grabbed or adjusted his own face mask before falling backward.
Read more: Damar Hamlin’s family issues a statement following his cardiac arrest (Updated: Jan. 6)
Following days of uncertainty and concern, the Buffalo Bills announced Thursday that Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest but that his brain function appeared to be normal.
“Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the team tweeted. “While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact.”
The Bills will host the New England Patriots in their final regular-season game, while the Bengals will host the Baltimore Ravens. On Sunday, both games begin at 1 p.m. ET.
The now-cancelled game would not have affected any other team’s ability to make or miss the playoffs, which the NFL stated was a factor in the decision.
Goodell said in a statement about the canceled game and postseason on Thursday that the league worked hard to minimize disruptions and inequalities.
“I recognize that there is no perfect solution,” Goodell said. “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.”