By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) -The NFL will not resume the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals that was postponed on Monday after Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field, the league said on Thursday.
The Bengals were leading 7-3 in the first quarter of the game in Cincinnati when Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle. He was given CPR and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital as distraught players from both teams looked on.
“This has been a very difficult week,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement announcing the cancellation, which came on the same day that Hamlin’s doctors said he was awake and communicating with them.
“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.”
Goodell noted that the game had no effect on which clubs would qualify for the postseason but resuming the game would require pushing back the start of the playoffs.
The Bengals and the Bills are both in the hunt for the AFC’s top seed, which comes with a first-round playoff bye. The regular season concludes on Sunday.
Goodell said cancelling the game created potential competitiveness inequities in certain playoff scenarios and said the clubs will consider a league proposal on seeding and the potential use of neutral sites in a meeting on Friday.
“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell said.
“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.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Himani Sarkar)