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Bengals attempt to refocus for division showdown with Ravens

Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are finding it tough to focus on their Sunday game against the Baltimore Ravens in the aftermath of the serious injury suffered by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

The Bengals were the opponent Monday night when Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field after making a tackle in the first quarter. The game was suspended and it hasn’t been determined if it will be completed.

Seeing a player receiving CPR on the field and being taken away by ambulance haven’t been easy for the Bengals (11-4) even as they seek to clinch the NFC North crown when they host the Ravens (10-6).

“That’s what we’re tasked to do,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Wednesday. “Our time in the building, and the appropriate times, is focused on getting ready for Baltimore. You can do two things at once. You can prepare for a football game on Sunday and you can still support Damar.”

Receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are among the Bengals hit with heavy emotions. Higgins was the player tackled before Hamlin got up after the hit, took a step and then fell backward to the turf.

Boyd and Hamlin both are from the Pittsburgh area and both played college football at Pitt. Boyd’s final college season was in 2015, one season before Hamlin’s first.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said there are some players who have mixed emotions about playing on Sunday. He said there were discussions about whether to play.

“Personally, I think it is going to be tough, but there’s people that want to play, too, and there’s people that don’t,” Burrow said. “Personally, I probably want to play. I think getting back to as normal as you can as fast as you can is personally how I kind of deal with these kinds of things.”

Burrow will be counted on to supply his usual high-dose level of leadership as the Bengals pursue their eighth consecutive victory.

The Ravens defeated Cincinnati 19-17 in Week 5 and have won six of the past eight meetings. Baltimore has clinched a wild-card spot.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday and is expected to miss his fifth straight game. Coach John Harbaugh elected not to provide an update on Jackson’s status.

“I’m just probably going to leave all that stuff alone and focus on the game and just be ready to coach our guys and have our guys ready for the game,” Harbaugh said.

Tyler Huntley has guided the Ravens to a 2-2 record as Jackson’s replacement, but he has passed for only 471 yards in the four games without Jackson and the team has averaged just 12.3 points.

Last Sunday night, Huntley passed for 130 yards in a 16-13 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Huntley (shoulder/wrist) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday.

Another issue in the setback against Pittsburgh was the run defense. Baltimore allowed 198 rushing yards.

“It wasn’t any one thing. It was just not being quite up to standard across the board probably,” Harbaugh said. “Guys were fighting, and there was effort. I give them credit — (the Steelers) blocked and ran hard. It’s a good team now, and we respect them. They were better than us in terms of the fundamentals of running the ball and run defense is really the bottom line.”

It would provide a boost for the Ravens if eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell (knee) is available. He has missed the past two games and didn’t practice Wednesday, partly for rest and partly due to his knee.

Receiver DeSean Jackson (illness) also missed the Wednesday practice for the Ravens.

Cincinnati listed just one player on the injury report on Wednesday, defensive end Sam Hubbard (calf).

–Field Level Media