Bills, Bengals focus on game as Hamlin recovers – The Morning Call

Damar Hamlin is on the mend, and that’s inspiring enough to allow coach Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills to focus on the immediate future rather than an emotional past as they prepare to host the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s game. divisional round of the American Conference.

In a matter of three weeks, the Bills, and also the Bengals, have gone from having to cancel their game after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived on the field in Cincinnati, to being comforted by the safety’s remarkable recovery. .

“I think the guys are in a good place,” McDermott said Wednesday, noting that Hamlin has made regular visits to Bills facilities this week.

“As he continues to improve, I think that certainly helps,” he added. “That experience, we will take with us, and there is a challenge to that. But there’s also a lot of good that comes from that. And I think now we have to focus on the positive.”

The positives are numerous, beginning with Hamlin’s return home a week after being released from the hospital. There’s also the outpouring of support Hamlin received after his sudden collapse.

And McDermott believes that the passage of time, and the chance to get back on the field to play the next two weekends, helped ease any emotional residue he and his players felt.

“I shared this with my kids the Sunday after the New England game because that’s when I had a chance to calm down,” McDermott said, following the 35-23 win over the Patriots two weeks ago.

“When you can go 48 years in life without having an experience like that, and then it happens, you know that God is real,” he added. “And you know that there is power in prayer and that miracles happen.”

McDermott said Hamlin is not attending team meetings, but instead taking what he called “one baby step at a time” to re-establish a normal routine “just putting his feet in and getting on his way to being himself again.” .

The mood this week in Cincinnati was equally upbeat. The Bengals were also stunned to see Hamlin slump after making what looked like a routine tackle on catcher Tee Higgins in the first quarter.

“To see Damar getting healthier as time goes on and to see where he ended up, there’s always going to be a strong connection between these two organizations, and that’s a good thing,” coach Zac Taylor said.

Now it’s about two teams coming together on the pitch and in the locker room at a moment of crisis by agreeing that the week 17 game could not continue, essentially picking up now where they left off. Instead of having the AFC top seed hanging in the balance like it was supposed to on Jan. 2, the stakes are even higher.

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