NFL's Damar Hamlin in critical condition after cardiac arrest; game postponed

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamiln collapsed on the field after making a tackle and was taken by ambulance and is now in critical condition.

 Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Siran Neal (33) reacts as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is tended to on the field and taken off by ambulance in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium (photo credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Siran Neal (33) reacts as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is tended to on the field and taken off by ambulance in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium
(photo credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports)

Bills safety Damar Hamlin was taken off the field via ambulance after reportedly being administered CPR during the first quarter of Buffalo's Monday night game against the host Cincinnati Bengals, and the NFL subsequently postponed the contest.

The NFL announced that Hamlin, who collapsed on the field after making a tackle, was in critical condition. He reportedly was at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The Bills released a statement early Tuesday morning that read, Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition."

According to the American Heart Association's website, "A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating. A heart attack is a 'circulation' problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an 'electrical' problem."

The NFL said in a statement announced that the decision to halt the game was made with the agreement of the NFL Players Association.

 Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) makes the tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) during the first quarterat Paycor Stadium. The play led to Hamlin collapsing on the field, and being taken to the hospital in critical condition (credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports) Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) makes the tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) during the first quarterat Paycor Stadium. The play led to Hamlin collapsing on the field, and being taken to the hospital in critical condition (credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)

Hamlin's marketing representative, Jordon Rooney, later tweeted, "Update on Damar: His vitals are back to normal and they have put him to sleep to put a breathing tube down his throat. They are currently running tests. We will provide updates as we have them."

According to the ESPN broadcast, medical personnel were administering CPR to Hamlin and also gave him oxygen as they loaded him into the ambulance.

"Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills," the NFL said in a statement. "We will provide more information as it becomes available. The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association, which is in agreement with postponing this game."

It wasn't immediately known when the game would be played. The Bengals were leading 7-3 when it was temporarily suspended with 5:58 left in the first quarter, more than 20 minutes after Hamlin collapsed.

The Bills didn't immediately release a statement with details about Hamlin's condition or the postponement, though they tweeted, "The thoughts and prayers of all of Bills Mafia are supporting you, Damar."

The Bengals released a brief statement on Twitter: "The game has been postponed. We will provide further information as details become available."

What happened?

An ambulance was brought onto the field a few minutes after Hamlin, 24, fell to the ground, not moving. He was removed from the field approximately 15 minutes after collapsing.

Hamlin tackled Cincinnati's Tee Higgins after a 13-yard gain to the Bills' 48-yard line. He got up and took a step before falling back to the ground.

Players from both teams crowded into the area near midfield as Hamlin was being worked on. Some emotional Buffalo players were crying.

 Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott takes a knee is as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is tended to on the field following a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium (credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports) Jan 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott takes a knee is as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is tended to on the field following a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium (credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports)

Both teams went into the locker room once play was suspended.

Approximately 50 minutes after Hamlin's injury, Bills coach Sean McDermott and Bengals coach Zac Taylor were outside of their locker rooms and taking turns talking on the phone.

Shortly after that call, the Bills were seen removing their equipment from the field. The announcement of a suspended contest was made minutes later.

The NFLPA later tweeted, "The NFLPA and everyone in our community are praying for Damar Hamlin. We have been in touch with Bills and Bengals players, and with the NFL. The only thing that matters at this moment is Damar's health and well-being."

Hamlin's injury cast a pall inside Paycor Stadium, which was rocking with energy for a showdown between two of the top three teams in the AFC. The Bills are 12-3, the Bengals are 11-4.

Hamlin, a second-year pro, has 92 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season. He was a sixth-round pick in 2021 from Pitt.