AP Sports SummaryBrief at 5:49 p.m. EST

NFL still considering scheduling options, Week 18 unchanged

The NFL is still considering various options following the suspension of the Bills-Bengals game, including possibly eliminating the bye week before the Super Bowl. The Bills-Patriots game set for Sunday and the rest of the Week 18 games remain on schedule. The pivotal Bills-Bengals game was suspended Monday night after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest while making a tackle in the first quarter. A marketing representative for his family says Hamlin’s recovery is moving in “a positive direction” two days after the 24-year-old player had to be resuscitated on the field. NFL executive Jeff Miller said there has been no decision on whether to resume the Bills-Bengals game at a later date. A decision will be made in the coming days.

Family rep: Hamlin’s recovery moving in positive direction

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The marketing representative for Damar Hamlin says the Buffalo Bills safety’s recovery is moving in “a positive direction” two days after he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest during a game against Cincinnati. Jordon Rooney says the family remains optimistic but that he was unable to go into further detail on Hamlin’s status. The Bills said Wednesday that Hamlin remained hospitalized in critical condition but displayed signs of improvement on Tuesday and overnight. They said he was expected to remain in intensive care as his medical team continued to monitor and treat him. The Bills are scheduled to hold team meetings and a walkthrough practice without any media availability on Wednesday.

Collapse of Bills’ Hamlin deepens Buffalo’s anguish, resolve

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have been a reliable bright spot for a city that has been shaken by a racist mass shooting and back-to-back snowstorms in recent months. So when Bills safety Damar Hamlin was critically hurt in a game Monday, the city quickly looked for ways to support the team. Supporters have been donating to Hamlin’s Pennsylvania charity and several gathered to pray together outside the Bills stadium in Orchard Park Tuesday. Officials say Buffalo City Hall and Niagara Falls will be illuminated in Bills’ blue. Hamlin remains hospitalized in critical condition after going into cardiac arrest after a tackle.

Column: The games will go on after Hamlin — they always do

It was a horrific scene. A young athlete just getting started on a promising NFL career, popping up from a rather innocuous-looking tackle — and then slumping back to the turf. Just like that, fighting for his life. Naturally, when a traumatic event happens like the one that stopped Damar Hamlin’s heart, we’re roused to ponder the value of sport. Especially a violent sport such as football. But anyone who suggests this is a precarious moment for America’s No. 1 pastime, that somehow we’ve crossed a Rubicon leading to its slow, inevitable downfall, simply hasn’t been paying attention.

3 NFL teams look for rare trip from 2-6 start to playoffs

Falling into a 2-6 hole near the midpoint of a season is usually a recipe to look to the future for NFL teams, with only two teams ever climbing out of that hole to reach the postseason. Headed into Week 18 of this season, three teams that lost six of their first eight games remain in the playoff hunt. Jacksonville can clinch the AFC South with a win over Tennessee or it could sneak in as a wild-card team with a loss and lots of help. Detroit and Pittsburgh have more complicated paths, needing wins and help from others to clinch their wild-card berths.

Hamlin’s collapse spurs new wave of vaccine misinformation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Misinformation about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines has flared up once again, this time following the on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during a game Monday. Even before Hamlin was carried off the field, social media posts claimed without evidence that his medical emergency was caused by a COVID-19 inoculation. Prominent anti-vaccine groups and right-leaning figures like Tucker Carlson claimed Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is connected to a number of athletes who have died after receiving the shot. Physicians interviewed by the AP, however, said it’s wrong to blame vaccines for Hamlin’s injury and that there’s been no increase in cardiac arrests among vaccinated athletes.

Pickett’s patience, poise help fuel Steelers’ late surge

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is growing up on the job. Pickett’s steady play has helped Pittsburgh put together an impressive second half that has them in the playoff mix heading into the regular-season finale against Cleveland. Pickett has just one interception in his past seven games after throwing eight in his first five appearances. Coach Mike Tomlin says he’s not surprised by Pickett’s steady progress, saying Pickett’s maturity is one of the reasons the Steelers took him with the 20th overall pick in the draft.

Commanders to start rookie Sam Howell at QB vs. Cowboys

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Coach Ron Rivera says rookie Sam Howell is expected start at quarterback for the Washington Commanders in their season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Howell is set to make his NFL debut with the Commanders eliminated from playoff contention. Rivera said the decision was made to give Howell a look in case the fifth-round pick out of the University of North Carolina gets a chance to be a full-time starter in the pros. Rivera said he initially considered going with Taylor Heinicke before changing his mind after conversations with players and members of his staff. The Cowboys can win the NFC East with a win and a loss by Philadelphia.

Hudson interim US men’s soccer coach during Berhalter probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Anthony Hudson will coach the United States men’s soccer team on an interim basis ahead of the first two matches of the cycle leading to the 2026 World Cup. Coach Gregg Berhalter is being investigated by the U.S. Soccer Federation for a 1991 domestic violence incident involving the woman who became his wife. USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart says Hudson will lead the team ahead of exhibitions against Serbia on Jan. 25 and Colombia three days later. Hudson is an assistant coach on the men’s team and previously led the U.S. under-20 team.

Bears’ Fields to miss finale, ending shot at QB rushing mark

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Justin Fields won’t get a chance to break the single-season rushing record for an NFL quarterback. Coach Matt Eberflus says Fields will miss the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings because of a strained hip and Nathan Peterman will start in his place. Fields finishes his second season with 1,143 yards rushing, 63 shy of the record of 1,206 set by Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson in 2019 during his MVP season. Eberflus said Fields reported a sore hip Monday morning, a day after the Bears got blown out at Detroit. An MRI confirmed the strain and the team’s medical staff ruled him out for the game against NFC North champion Minnesota on Sunday.

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