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Sean McDermott: Damar Hamlin Would Want Bills to Play Game vs. Patriots in Week 18

Doric SamJanuary 5, 2023

FILE - Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin with his helmet off before playing the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game, Sept. 8, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. The scenes of Hamlin's on-field collapse after suffering cardiac arrest on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, has forced some fans to yet again confront a truth they have always known but hated to think about: Football can go from exciting and joyous to dark and tragic in a flash. Now, as the Bills defensive back remains in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital, fans are reflecting on their relationship with the sport they love. (AP Photo/John McCoy, File)
AP Photo/John McCoy, File

After receiving positive news regarding the progress of Damar Hamlin, prominent members of the Buffalo Bills feel ready to return to the field for Sunday's regular-season finale against the New England Patriots.

Speaking to reporters Thursday for the first time since Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bills head coach Sean McDermott was asked why he feels the team should play in Week 18. He said:

"Damar's father spoke to the team. Really, his message was the team needs to get back to focusing on the goals that they had set for themselves. Damar would've wanted it that way—and I'm paraphrasing—and that includes our game against New England this week. And I think that has helped."

Both McDermott and star quarterback Josh Allen affirmed their belief that the team is prepared to take the field in just three days for a game that has significant playoff implications, as Buffalo is vying for the No. 1 seed in the AFC:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Do the Buffalo Bills feel ready to play a football game in 3 days?<br><br>Josh Allen: "I do."<br><br>Sean McDermott: "I do as well."<br><br>Both say Damar Hamlin's improvement and his father saying Damar would want them to get back to focusing on their goals have helped.

Hamlin was resuscitated twice on the field during Monday's game and taken to the hospital after he collapsed following his tackle of Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. The Bills announced earlier Thursday that physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Hamlin "has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours" and "appears to be neurologically intact" despite remaining critically ill.

The news undoubtedly was relieving for players, as Buffalo cornerback Kaiir Elam expressed optimism after the update:

Kaiir Elam @kaiirelam5

Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!

Despite moving forward with preparations for Sunday's game, Allen acknowledged that this experience will continue to affect the team for quite some time.

"Some people are going to be changed forever after being on the field and witnessing that and feeling those emotions," Allen told reporters.

The star signal-caller also offered kind words to Higgins, saying, "I hope he got some relief today. I saw some stuff on Twitter. ... There's nothing else he could've done in that situation."

The Bills can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win against the Patriots coupled with a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs and Bengals.