Damar Hamlin had the American sporting community rooting for him after the Buffalo Bills safety suffered an on-field cardiac arrest, as team-mate Josh Allen pleaded: "Please pray for our brother."

Hamlin was in a critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, having collapsed during Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter, and after briefly returning to his feet, he slumped to the ground.

He was administered CPR on the field, before being loaded into a waiting ambulance and rushed away.

Amid harrowing scenes, the game was suspended while the Bengals were leading 7-3 with 5:58 remaining in the first period.

Allen led the call for prayer for Hamlin, with well-wishers from across sport, entertainment and politics also sending thoughts and best wishes.

Former Chargers and Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote on Twitter: "Damar Hamlin represents every one of us and every team-mate we've ever had.

"I've never met him, but I know him as a member of our brotherhood. My family and I pray for him and his family as he recovers. God be with him."

Michael Vick and Patrick Mahomes also said they were praying for Hamlin, the latter adding: "Please be okay man."

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill added: "Praying for Damar Hamlin, his family and everyone in Buffalo... no words for a situation like this."

The NFL said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar, his family and the Buffalo Bills."

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt said: "The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important. Please be ok. Please."

From basketball, the NBA said: "The entire NBA family's thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin, his family and the NFL community."

That was reflected in post-game comments from a number of leading stars after Monday's NBA action, with Lakers superstar LeBron James saying: "My thoughts and super prayers goes up to the skies above for that kid's family, for him, for that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody a part of the NFL family."

James said it was "definitely the right call" to abandon the game for the night.

He said of the incident: "It was a terrible thing to see and I wish nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, for the franchise of the Bills and like I said, for the rest of the NFL as well and also the Bengals that was there and playing in that game."

Klay Thompson, from the Golden State Warriors, added: "As athletes, sometimes the game can overshadow us as individuals or people.

"On behalf of the organisation, we wish him the best. We're keeping him in our prayers and hoping for the best possible outcome. He's a tremendous person and it's bigger than the sport."

Hollywood actor Ben Stiller, a big sports fan, wrote: "Sending good thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family."

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said: "Our prayers are with Damar Hamlin."

Amid the focus on Hamlin's plight, there was a surge in donations to a Christmas fundraiser the Bills star organised in 2020, to raise money to buy toys for children hit hard by the pandemic.

The fundraiser's target had been $2,500, but its running tally passed $3million by the early hours of Tuesday.

The Buffalo Bills announced 24-year-old safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It occurred in the first quarter after Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, and after briefly returning to his feet, he collapsed.

Hamlin remained down for over 10 minutes as he was administered CPR on the field, before being loaded into a waiting ambulance and rushed to a nearby hospital.

The Bills' statement 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."

The game was suspended while the Bengals were leading 7-3 with 5:58 remaining in the first period.

Monday's fixture between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals has been officially suspended after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and was taken away in an ambulance.

Hamlin, 24, had made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, and after briefly returning to his feet, he collapsed.

He remained down for over 10 minutes, and was seen receiving CPR before being loaded into an ambulance and taken to a local hospital.

All players and team personnel returned to the locker room and over an hour passed before the NFL decided to officially call off the rest of the night's proceedings.

A statement from the league confirmed Hamlin is in "critical condition".

It read: "Tonight’s Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game has been postponed after Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin collapsed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced.

"Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.

"Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. 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 the game."

The game was called off halfway through the first quarter with the Bengals leading 7-3.

Monday's game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals has been temporarily suspended after a scary situation unfolded as safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and was taken off the field in an ambulance.

The incident occurred during the first quarter, after Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. He briefly returned to his feet, before collapsing.

He remained down for over 10 minutes as ESPN's broadcast reported he was receiving emergency CPR before being loaded onto a stretcher and into a waiting ambulance.

The game was temporarily suspended with the Bengals leading 7-3, with both teams heading back to the locker room as they anxiously await an update on Hamlin's health.

Tom Brady will not be rested for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' final regular season game, with Todd Bowles vowing to field his starters.

Tampa Bay locked up the NFC South with a Week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Raymond Jones Stadium, securing a top-four berth for the playoffs.

With nothing but a winning record to play for in Week 18 against the Atlanta Falcons, however, there had been questions as to whether the Bucs would choose to protect key players in an effective dead rubber.

Brady stated after victory he wanted to play against Atlanta, and now Bowles has revealed he intends to put his strongest line-up out rather than go the safe route.

"We can get better at a lot of things, so right now I'm planning on playing them," he said on Monday. "We'll see as the week goes forward.

"But we can get better at a lot of things that we need to work on, and we don't need to take our foot off the gas.

"You've got to weigh the pluses and minuses to that. So we'll see how the week goes, and we'll try to make some arrangements or corrections if we need to make them, and we'll go from there."

An 8-8 record this season means that a win against the Falcons can help the Bucs avoid the ignominy of a losing campaign heading into the postseason.

Bowles – who celebrated a second division title in a row with milk and cookies – is aware a third straight win will help the Bucs peak at the right time

"It'll boost morale," he added. "Winning helps, period, whether it's playoffs or regular season. You want to win every game you play.

"Obviously we had some tough ones we lost, we had some tough ones we won.

"But winning the last two the way we did, obviously that builds morale more, and you want to go in on a high note."

Art McNally, the first NFL official to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 97.

McNally spent 23 years as the NFL's director of officiating and was responsible for introducing the instant replay review process and formal training for officials.

He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year and known as "the father of modern officiating", died of natural causes on Sunday, his family confirmed.

"Art McNally was an extraordinary man, the epitome of integrity and class," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. 

"Fittingly, he was the first game official enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

"But more importantly, he was a Hall of Fame person in absolutely every way."

The list of things that have not gone entirely to plan for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is pretty extensive.

From offensive line injuries to an inconsistent pass rush and the questionable decision-making of head coach Todd Bowles in his first year in the job, the Buccaneers have had to deal with both misfortune and a host of self-inflicted problems.

Yet the most bemusing issue in what can at best be described as an up-and-down season for Tom Brady following his about-face on his initial offseason decision to retire has been his lack of a rapport with Mike Evans.

Sideline frustration between Brady and Evans has been a common theme for Tampa Bay in 2022, with the latter's struggles seeing him go 11 games without scoring a receiving touchdown.

That frustration was alleviated emphatically on Sunday as Evans exploded for a hat-trick of touchdowns in helping the Buccaneers overturn a 21-10 deficit against the Carolina Panthers and clinch the NFC South with a 30-24 victory at Raymond James Stadium.

Evans caught deep shots of 63, 57 and 30 yards from Brady as he destroyed an injury-hit Panthers secondary.

He created a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on eight of his 12 targets in a performance that saw him rack up 207 receiving yards. Evans averaged 17.25 burn yards per target, trailing only Christian Watson and Davante Adams among wideouts with at least five targets in Week 17 as of Sunday.

It was belated reward for a season in which Evans, despite consistently appearing out of sync with Brady, he has excelled at getting open. Indeed, heading into Week 17, Evans led the NFL in combined open percentage (56.47) in matchups against man and zone coverage (min. 100 matchups).

His first deep touchdown reception saw Evans surpass 1,000 receiving yards for the season. It is his ninth successive 1,000-yard campaign, tying Tim Brown for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Only San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice (11) can claim to have more consecutive four-figure receiving seasons.

Evans' own record for the most successive 1,000-yard receiving seasons to start a career was also extended, but more important than his individual milestones is the confidence his treble could give both him and Brady as they prepare for the postseason.

The Buccaneers have had precious little on which to rely on the offensive side of the ball, save for their performance when going no-huddle and Brady's ability to lead comebacks in the fourth quarter.

Brady has a career-high five game-winning drives this season and four fourth-quarter comebacks, a tally that is one shy of his career-high in that respect.

But the rekindling of Brady's connection with Evans gives Tampa Bay something to lean on, a route to explosive plays that will be all the more critical in the postseason.

A narrow win over the Panthers won't do much to change perceptions that the Bucs are a team well short of being able to compete for a Super Bowl. However, Brady and Evans connecting consistently downfield improves the odds of them at least doing damage in the playoffs, especially in a possible first-round matchup with a volatile and vulnerable Dallas Cowboys secondary.

It's likely to be the final year of the Brady-Evans partnership in Tampa, one that has resulted in 32 touchdowns since the quarterback left the New England Patriots to head to the Buccaneers.

Though it remains a long shot that Brady's expected swansong with the Bucs will result in a second title in three seasons, his farewell may be extended a few weeks longer than many anticipated if he and Evans can deliver a few more demonstrations of the rapport that had previously made this offense so devastating.

In preparation for their biggest game of the season, the Tennessee Titans are once again turning to a player who has not even been on the team for two weeks to run the offense.

The Titans are staying with Joshua Dobbs at quarterback for Saturday's clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game that will determine the winner of the AFC South.

Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel made the decision on Monday, four days after Dobbs made his first career start in a 27-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

“I think he’s ready for the opportunity and looking forward to it,” Vrabel said.

Thursday’s defeat to the Cowboys marked the sixth straight loss for the Titans, dropping them to 7-9 and just behind the 8-8 Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South. The winner of Saturday’s matchup in Jacksonville will secure the division title and fourth seed in the AFC.

Dobbs didn’t do much to impress against the Cowboys, completing 20-of-39 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown and interception. However, he had just been signed off the Detroit Lions' practice squad eight days earlier, so the Titans considered it a good starting point.

"I think that there will be some things that we'll try to add or maybe things that we practiced last week that we didn't run,” Vrabel said. "I think it's just going to be good to have a full week and be able to have first and second down, third down, red zone emphasis — that's probably where him not having been here as much, I think we need to dive into his knowledge of the overall red zone and everything that's going on down there."

Dobbs, a fourth-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, also showed more promise than rookie Malik Willis, who had taken over at quarterback after Ryan Tannehill was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

Willis is 1-2 as a starter while throwing three interceptions without a TD pass. His 234 passing yards in his three starts are two more than Dobbs threw on Thursday.

Willis also had the luxury of playing alongside Derrick Henry in the backfield, while Dobbs played last Thursday without the two-time league rushing leader as he was inactive in Week 17 because of a hip injury.

Henry is slated to return for the winner-take-all matchup with the Jaguars.

A trio of Alabama superstars revealed they will be continuing their football careers in the NFL, as quarterback Bryce Young, edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and running back Jahmyr Gibbs all announced on Monday they will forego their senior seasons and enter the draft.

Both Young and Anderson could be the number one pick, while Gibbs is considered one of the top running backs in the draft class and is projected to be selected in the first round.

The three made the decision to turn pro two days after Alabama cruised to a 45-20 win over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl to cap an 11-2 season.

Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns – an Alabama bowl record – in Saturday's rout to finish his career as one of the most prolific passers in school history.

In three years with the Crimson Tide, Young passed for 8,356 yards – second only to AJ McCarron's 9,019 yards – and 80 touchdowns – to trail only Tua Tagovailoa's school record of 87.

Anderson is a two-time unanimous All-American, a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. He leaves Alabama with 34.5 sacks and 62 tackles for loss – second only to Derrick Thomas for the most in school history.

Gibbs played one season at Alabama after transferring from Georgia Tech and was named a second-team All-SEC performer in 2022 after rushing for 926 yards and seven touchdowns while adding another 444 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.

Daniel Jones was left to bask in a "special moment" as he received a standing ovation at MetLife Stadium after helping the New York Giants clinch a playoff berth.

The Giants qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2016 with a dominant 38-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Jones has been much maligned since the Giants selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft.

But he completed 79.2 per cent of his passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a further 91 yards and a touchdown as the Giants secured the sixth seed in the NFC.

Jones, in the final year of his Giants contract after they declined his fifth-year option, was removed from the game with seven minutes and 30 seconds remaining, receiving a tremendous reception from the crowd and from his team-mates on the sideline.

"That was a special moment," Jones said. "A lot of guys who've put in a lot of work. We've been through, certainly, some tougher times and it feels good to be on this side of it, for sure.

"Special moment with those guys. Really proud of this team, proud of what we did today. Grateful to be a part of it."

The Giants cannot improve their seeding and have nothing to play for in their Week 18 clash with the Philadelphia Eagles.

By contrast, the Eagles need to win to clinch the NFC East and the number one seed in the conference. Defeat for the Eagles would give the Dallas Cowboys the chance to snatch the division and both the Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers the opportunity to clinch the one seed.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll indicated he would not rest his starters and give the Eagles some help in an unexpectedly nervy end to the season for Philadelphia, who suffered a second successive loss at home to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

"You get rest after the season. It's a long season," Daboll said. 

"This is the fun part of the season. It's the fun part of the season when you're winning. It's the bad part of the season when you're losing."

Patrick Mahomes added yet more achievements to his sparkling resume in the Kansas City Chiefs' narrow Week 17 win over the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs were made to work much harder than expected for their 27-24 victory against a Broncos team playing their first game since firing head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

Mahomes threw for 328 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in helping the Chiefs come through a surprisingly tough test and improve to 13-3.

Those numbers took him to 5,000 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns for the 2022 season, marking the second time he has surpassed those milestones in a single campaign.

He joined Tom Brady and Drew Brees as the third quarterback with multiple seasons with 5,000 or more passing yards, while only he and Brees have more than one season with 5,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns.

Now on 5,048 passing yards, he will likely surpass the career-high total of 5,097 he set in 2018 when he won the MVP award in the regular-season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, in which the Chiefs could secure the number one seed for the AFC playoffs.

It would take a remarkable game, though, for Mahomes to better his career-high mark of 50 passing touchdowns, also set in 2018.

While the focus is on the Chiefs regaining a Lombardi Trophy they last won in the 2019 season, Mahomes understands the magnitude of his individual records.

"I mean, obviously it's really cool if you look at the names that are on that list," Mahomes said. 

"You're talking about the all-time greats with Drew Brees and Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, so just to be a part of the list that has those names on there, it's a special accomplishment.

"And I'm glad I have the people around me and the coaches around me to be able to do it."

Kyle Shanahan believes Brock Purdy having to come from behind to help the San Francisco 49ers to a 37-34 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders will be beneficial for the unbeaten rookie quarterback.

The 49ers were expected to brush aside the Raiders, for whom Jarrett Stidham was making his first NFL start at quarterback after they benched Derek Carr, but the anticipated blowout did not materialise.

Instead, the Niners were drawn into a compelling shootout, their league-best defense surrendering 500 yards to the Raider offense as Stidham delivering a stunning debut.

The 49ers trailed 24-14 in the third quarter but, even after overturning that deficit, were still forced into overtime despite Purdy delivering with the game on the line.

Having seen the defense quickly surrender a 34-27 advantage as the Raiders tied the game with 71 seconds remaining in regulation, Purdy gained 52 yards on four completions to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to put the Niners in range for a game-winning field goal, only for Robbie Gould to push his kick wide right.

A Tashaun Gipson interception in overtime gave Gould the chance for a reprieve, his 23-yard kick giving the 49ers a ninth straight win that saw them improve to 12-4 and move up to the second seed in the NFC playoffs. 

It marked the first time Purdy, who became the fourth rookie quarterback to win his first four starts since 1950, had dealt with playing from behind.

And Shanahan was delighted to see him come through the experience.

"I think that was great for him," said Shanahan. "We had to come from behind, especially there at the end. Also, he made a ton of plays today, but there's a number that he missed too.

"And that's the coolest part. There were some he'd love to have back. It was never one way too much or the other where he was struggling or doing well, but there were some mixed plays.

"To keep coming back and keep attacking, he never got gun-shy, made some real good decisions too and fought it out throughout the whole game and found a way to win."

New York Jets quarterback Mike White described his side's elimination from the playoff race as "gut-wrenching" after suffering their fifth straight loss in Sunday's 23-6 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Jets had been primed for postseason action for the first time since the 2010 season after sitting at 7-4 following a 31-10 rout of the Chicago Bears in late November.

But their season fell apart amid an awkward period that saw White take over as starting QB from the struggling Zach Wilson.

White had been sidelined for two games due to a rib injury but his return against the Seahawks was not enough to lift the Jets, who have not had a winning season since 2015 (10-6).

Their 12-year playoff drought is the longest active streak in the NFL and now the franchise's longest ever as well, leaving White crestfallen.

"It stings," he told reporters. "It's tough. It's gut-wrenching. It's all of the above. You can use any adjective you want to use to describe it."

White failed to complete a touchdown pass against the 8-8 Seahawks at Lumen Field, completing 23 of 46 passes for 240 yards with two interceptions, while he was sacked four times.

"I was cleared to play by the doctors," he said. "The guys in that locker room deserve a certain standard. I knew what I was signing up for.

"I was cleared by the doctors, I practiced all week. Basically, what I'm saying is, there's a standard those guys deserve. I didn't live up to that standard today."

The game marked two in a row without a touchdown, which White described as "shocking", leaving question marks about the Jets' struggling offense.

Head coach Robert Saleh conceded the situation hurt but was eager to point out some of the positives in his second season in charge after going 4-13 last year.

"No one is hurting more than the people in the locker room, especially me," Saleh said.

"At the same time, I know it's hard to see light at the end of the tunnel, but there are a lot of really cool things to look at for this season. But right now it stings big time."

Aaron Rodgers says the Green Bay Packers' four-game win streak to set up a win-and-get-in scenario against the Detroit Lions "feels really special".

The Packers' season seemed doomed after slumping to a 4-8 record following their 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles barely a month ago.

Rodgers finished that Eagles defeat off the field with a rib injury, prompting talk of sitting him out for the season to allow backup QB Jordan Love to gain some experience with little for the Packers to play for.

The four-time NFL MVP, however, vowed to play on despite carrying a few injuries and has helped lift the side to an unlikely 8-8 record capped by Sunday's 41-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

"It feels really special, it does," Rodgers told reporters. "It's been an interesting year.

"It hasn't been my best football at times, but I've been asked to step up my leadership and be someone the guys can count on to keep it together, even when it doesn't seem like there's anything to play for or we don't have a chance to make a run.

"There's been a lot of special moments throughout the year."

Only one team has ever made the playoffs in NFL history after having a 4-8 record.

"It didn't look great for a while and I was resigned to some of those realities being possible," Rodgers said.

"When I took my mind there, I had a peace about it. I had a peace about all of it. Whatever was supposed to happen, I was surrendered to that reality - with also the resolute mindset that we could still get back in this thing.

"I think that's what I'm most proud of, for myself and our team, is that there were a lot of different things that could happen, and we stuck together and we put ourselves in position to do something special."

Kenny Pickett came up clutch for the second week running to keep the Pittsburgh Steelers alive with a come-from-behind 16-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The Steelers rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to score the game's final 13 points, including Pickett's go-ahead touchdown pass for the dominant Najee Harris with 56 seconds left.

Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley's desperate pass with 13 seconds remaining to clinch victory for the Steelers, who claimed their third straight win to improve to 8-8 behind the Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) and Ravens (10-6) in the AFC North.

The Ravens' defeat, which is the fourth time they have lost after having a double-digit lead this season, significantly impacts their aspirations to win the division, with the Bengals able to clinch it with victory against the Buffalo Bills on Monday. The Bengals host the Ravens in Week 18.

Pickett and Harris were the stars for the Steelers, with the 24-year-old quarterback completing 15 of 27 passes for 168 yards with his only touchdown coming when it mattered most.

In the game-winning 11-play drive, the QB made 20-yard and 28-yard gains with passes to Pat Freiermuth and Steven Sims Jr respectively before evading Jason Pierre-Paul's tackle and finding Harris in the left corner on a third-and-8.

Steelers running backs Harris (111 rushing yards on 22 carries) and Jaylen Warren (76 rushing yards on 12 carries) were outstanding. Huntley completed 14 of 21 passes for 130 yards for the Ravens.

Earlier, the Ravens benefitted from a controversial unnecessary roughness penalty against Cameron Heyward on a third-and-14, which led to a verbal exchange with team-mate Fitzpatrick, after Huntley threw a touchdown pass for Isaiah Likely on the next play shortly prior to half-time.

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