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Patriots’ Week 18 game vs. Bills is still on for Sunday, but Bills-Bengals will not resume this week

Fans looked on as the ambulance carrying Damar Hamlin left Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati Monday night.Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Patriots will begin normal on-field activities Wednesday as they prepare to play a game during a week that feels anything but normal in NFL circles.

According to an NFL statement, the Patriots, like every other team, will play their scheduled Week 18 game this weekend. For New England, that means a trip to Western New York for a 1 p.m. Sunday game against a Bills team dealing with much bigger things than football or postseason seedings.

Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin was in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after suffering cardiac arrest early in Monday night’s game against the Bengals.


The NFL announced that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week but the league did not rule out the possibility of continuing it at some point.

Like many teams, the Patriots canceled their scheduled media availabilities Tuesday in deference to Hamlin. Assistant coaches Jerod Mayo, Cam Achord, and Ross Douglas had been scheduled to speak with reporters over Zoom.

As in most game weeks, Bill Belichick will speak with the media prior to practice Wednesday. Players will be made available after practice.

Many Patriots tweeted words of support for Hamlin and the Bills Monday night and Tuesday. Every team in the league changed its Twitter icon to an image of Hamlin’s No. 3 jersey and the words “Pray for Damar.”

In addition, many Patriots, including Devin McCourty, Lawrence Guy, Myles Bryant, Marcus Jones, and Brian Hoyer, have donated to Hamlin’s “GoFundMe” page, which the player set up to buy toys for the “Chasing M” foundation. Hamlin’s goal for the page was $2,500, but as of Tuesday afternoon it had raised more than $4 million.

The Bills-Bengals game, as well as the Patriots-Bills game, has a lot of postseason implications. New England is competing for a playoff spot, while Buffalo and Cincinnati are in contention (along with Kansas City) to earn the AFC’s top seed, which comes with a bye week.


If the Bills-Bengals matchup isn’t rescheduled, the league would need to seed a playoff field that includes some teams that played 17 games while the Bills and Bengals would have played only 16.

The NFL has been adept at reworking schedules in the past, most notably during the first two seasons of the COVID-19 pandemic when postponing and rescheduling were commonplace. The league, which held games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday during the pandemic, was never forced to cancel a game because of the coronavirus.

What's the next move for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

While the plan is to play Week 18 as scheduled — there’s a doubleheader Saturday and 14 games Sunday — the league could adjust.

Because there is a built-in “off week” between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, the league could, in theory, postpone Week 18 until Jan. 14-15.

This was the case in 2001-02, when the league postponed Week 2 in wake of the 9/11 attacks, meaning there was no off week before Super Bowl XXXVI, in which the Patriots beat the Rams.

The NFL’s full release on Hamlin and the schedule:

“The NFL continues to be in regular contact with the medical team caring for Damar Hamlin, and also the Bills and Bengals organizations and the NFL Players Association.

“After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed the clubs today that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week.


“The NFL has made no decision regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date.

“The league has not made any changes to the Week 18 regular-season schedule.

“We will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available.”

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Jim McBride can be reached at Follow him @globejimmcbride.