Troy Vincent: 'Everything is Being Considered' by NFL for Bills vs. Bengals Game

Adam WellsJanuary 4, 2023

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JANUARY 02: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills warms up prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The NFL is keeping all options on the table regarding the Buffalo Bills' final two games of the regular season and the playoff schedule.

Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the NFL, told reporters on Wednesday "everything is being considered" regarding the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals that was suspended.

"The guiding principles that took us into the 2020 season with COVID" are still available, Vincent added. "It may not be perfect but will allow those participating to be able to play."

Monday's matchup was suspended in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin required CPR on the field, and the Bills later announced he had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Hamlin, 24, has been at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center since Monday night after being transported by ambulance from the field.

"Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight," the Bills said in a statement on Wednesday. "He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him."

On Tuesday, the NFL announced the Bills-Bengals game would not resume this week and no changes were being made to the Week 18 schedule.

Vincent said today the league will take guidance from Bills head coach Sean McDermott about Sunday's game against the Patriots, including potentially delaying it. He did note delaying the game has not yet been discussed, and the focus is on everyone's well-being.

One option Vincent said is being considered is potentially eliminating the bye week between the conference championship games and Super Bowl.

Vincent said his talks with McDermott this week have "100 percent been around" how he and the rest of the Bills organization are doing mentally.

"I have not had any discussions outside how his mental health is and how are the players," he explained. "My concern is making sure the men have what they need to function."

In a typical week with a Sunday game, Wednesday would mark the first day of practice and media availability for the upcoming matchup. The Bills are holding a team meeting and an on-field walkthrough, but practice and media sessions won't take place today.

The Bills are scheduled to host the Patriots at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

One potential solution for the league is to see how the results of this week's games play out before making a decision on the suspended game, even if the Patriots-Bills game is postponed from its current time.

The Bills (12-3), Bengals (11-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) are vying for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Chiefs could secure the top seed and first-round bye with a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders and a Bills loss. The Bengals need to beat the Baltimore Ravens and have both teams lose to have a shot at the No. 1 seed.

There have been four previous instances of the NFL not having a bye week before the Super Bowl. The most recent time was during the 2001 season when the start of the campaign was delayed by one week following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Super Bowl 57 is scheduled to take place on Feb. 12 from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.