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The Way I See It... From the Desk of Ed Kilgore

Bills Refocus on Patriots

Words can’t express the joy and sense of relief most all of us feel with news that Damar Hamlin is making what doctors call “A remarkable recovery” from Monday Night’s shocking brush with death in Cincinnati.


The Bills safety is now awake, although still in critical condition, as he recovers from a cardiac arrest event early in the Bills/Bengals game at Paycor Stadium.  Doctors at UC Medical Center say Hamlin woke up last night, and asked them in writing if the Bills had won the game.  One doctor was quoted as saying “you won the game of life”.


He still has a lot of healing to do, but the worst fears appear to be behind us moving forward.


No doubt speculation about what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest will continue as he recovers, but in no way in my opinion should anybody try to put the blame on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, whose helmet hit Hamlin in the chest as Hamlin made the tackle.  This type of hit happens in almost every game, but this time, the hit was nearly fatal.


The NFL goes through an hour long drill before each and every game to ensure everybody knows how to coordinate efforts should the unthinkable happen, and the preparation no doubt saved Hamlin’s life.


Hopefully more universities and high schools will realize the importance of being prepared for such an event, even though it happens so rarely.


A shout out to Bills coach Sean McDermott, who told Bengals coach Zac Taylor “I need to be with my player, not coaching a football game”, as CPR was being administered to a motionless Hamlin.  McDermott didn’t wait for permission from the NFL or anybody else, but pulled his team off the field and the Bengals did the same.


Hamlin’s recovery clearly lifts a dark cloud hanging over the Bills nation as they continue practicing for Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots.  It’s a 1 o’clock kickoff at Highmark Stadium, and in keeping with the positive news, the forecast is for low 30’s and some sunshine.


Wisely in my view, the NFL has already decided the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed, as the Bengals had a 7-3 lead in the first quarter when Hamlin collapsed.


Hamlin’s improvement makes the NFL’s job both easier, yet more complicated.


With both the Bills and Bengals playing one game less than everybody else, winning percentages will be a big part of determining seedings in the AFC, and the no contest has a negative effect for both the Bills and Bengals.  The Chiefs can now take the top seed with a win over the Raiders Saturday, and this is despite the fact both the Bills and Bengals have beaten the Chiefs this season.


Without going into the many scenarios being discussed, the NFL will try to compromise for some degree of fairness, which means somebody will still be unhappy. What will eventually happen in some way, is even if the Chiefs are AFC top seed, they will have to give up either a home game or a bye week to make it more fair for the 2 seed, which will be Buffalo if they don’t stumble against a Patriots team fighting for a playoff spot.


Hamlin’s positive recovery certainly improves the Bills’ players state of mind.  The crowd, which loves the Bills unconditionally as it is, will be amped to a new level as the Bills take the field.  There’s even the chance the Bills could know by then that Hamlin will be watching the game on TV as he recovers in Cincinnati.


Buffalo, we need a break.  We deserve a break.


We’ve dealt with the horrible Tops shootings, a couple crippling snowstorms that resulted in several deaths, and being forced to move a Bills home game to Detroit after 7 feet of snow piled up in Orchard Park.


Kind of a shame that it takes adversity to bring out the best, and worst, in people, but the good is winning out here.  Bills Mafia and fans have raised nearly $7 million for Hamlin’s kids charity, with donors including many national celebrities and nearly all NFL owners and many players.


Barring the Chiefs being upset by the Raiders Saturday, the Bills won’t be able to reach their goal as the top seed earning a bye week and home field throughout the playoffs.


Honestly, I don’t think it matters.  They’ve won 2 of the last 3 at Arrowhead Stadium and came within 13 seconds of making it 3 in a row.  The Bills are already a close team that has bonded even more as the result of adversity this season.  With few exceptions, they’re healthy.  They’ll be happy to play anybody in a parking lot, with #3 Damar Hamlin providing even more inspiration.


This is a crazy season that someday might make a good book or movie.


We just don’t the ending just yet, but I think the Bills don’t slip up and beat the Patriots 26-14.





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