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NFL: Following Bills lead on status of next game

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) calls signals against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Any decision regarding when and if the Buffalo Bills play their next game belongs to the team, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent said Wednesday.

Specifically, Vincent said the NFL only began discussing the entire schedule and any games involving the Bills on Wednesday. That’s because the NFL intends to follow the lead of Bills head coach Sean McDermott, Vincent said, but that conversation “hasn’t taken place.”

“We’ll allow Sean (McDermott) and his team and his staff and the players, which are the most important things here, to guide us if we have to make that decision,” Vincent said of the possibility of postponing Buffalo’s game Sunday with the New England Patriots.

Attention and energy in Buffalo remains focused on the health of Damar Hamlin, leading the Bills to shift their typical Wednesday schedule ahead of an anticipated Sunday game with the New England Patriots.

The Bills will not practice or be available to media as the organization copes with the trauma of Hamlin, a 24-year-old starting safety, collapsing during Monday’s game due to cardiac arrest. With coaches and teammates gathered around him, Hamlin was resuscitated on the field at Cincinnati and his uncle said Tuesday that emergency medical care involved use of a defibrillator.

McDermott has not met with media since the game was suspended and his typical Wednesday morning press conference was canceled.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor met with media on Wednesday and largely credited McDermott for placing the immediate emphasis on Hamlin’s health. Taylor recalled in his first public comments since the game was postponed that the Bills’ leader lived up to the label in every sense of the term. Taylor crossed the field to the visitor’s sideline after the ambulance transporting Hamlin to the hospital left the field.

“When I got over there, the first thing he said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital with Damar, and I shouldn’t be coaching this game,'” McDermott told Taylor, according to the Bengals’ coach.

McDermott has no scheduled media availability according to the team. The Bills held a team meeting and brief on-field walkthrough on Wednesday.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that any plan to resume Monday’s game with the Bengals would come at a later date. However, the Week 18 schedule was unchanged, meaning the Bills are currently slated to host the Patriots on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

The Patriots did conduct practice on Wednesday.

The NFL playoffs are scheduled to begin next week, with the Bills (12-3) and Bengals (11-4) among teams vying for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

–Field Level Media