Cincinnati Bengals: Zac Taylor Begins Regrouping His Team to Face Ravens
While the NFL copes with Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest during the Bengals-Bills game on "Monday Night Football," the Bengals are having a tough time turning the page to Week 18 against the Ravens.
Hamlin remained in critical condition Wednesday but showed signs of improvement in a statement released by the Bills. Taylor met with the media after what has been a difficult two days.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin and his family, his loved ones, his teammates, coaches, the entire Bills organization, Taylor said via cincinnatibengals.com.
Taylor added that Bengals players were being encouraged to seek emotional support if needed, as they prepare to host the Ravens on Sunday. Taylor said that wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins were both handling their emotions as well as could be expected. Boyd was college teammate of Hamlin's at Pitt, while Higgins was tackled by Hamlin on the play before he went into cardiac arrest.
"You do have to move forward as a team, because we have a game to play on Sunday," Taylor said. "We do have to move focus toward that. At the same time, you don't have to move past this situation. You can still provide support for the players who need more of that. You're able to have space to do that, and at the same time move forward as a team with focusing on Baltimore on Sunday."
Taylor said it was the Bengals' job to do whatever it takes to get ready to face the Ravens.
"That's what we're tasked to do," Taylor said. "Our time in the building, and the appropriate times, is focused on getting ready for Baltimore. You can do two things at once. You can prepare for a football game on Sunday and you can still support Damar, those who knew him and are dealing with some emotional stuff at this time."
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said some of his teammates are thinking about not playing in the finale.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin Has Close Relationship with Hamlin
The Steelers (8-8) remain alive in the playoff hunt, but must defeat the Browns in Week 18 to have any chance to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh will make the playoffs with a victory on Sunday, coupled with losses by both the Patriots and Jets in Week 18.
While Head Coach Mike Tomlin prepared for another important game, he was also thinking about Hamlin, who grew up near Pittsburgh in McKees Rocks, Pa.
"It's a really personal thing for me being a Pittsburgher and that young man being a Pittsburgher," Tomlin said via NFL.com. "I've known that guy probably since he was about 12. Just got a lot of respect and love for him as a human being, his commitment to the pursuit of his goals and dreams of doing what it is he's doing right now, which is playing in the NFL. To watch him make personal decisions and make that a realization, it's just an honor to get to know young people like that. I had an opportunity to express that to him whenever I see him."
If the Steelers don't make the playoffs, they will point to their 2-6 start as one of the biggest reasons. However, Tomlin said the Steelers can't afford to look back.
"We acknowledge where we are. We acknowledge we had a lot to do with it," Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "We're willing to lay in the bed that we made. More importantly, we are going to stay focused on the work we have an opportunity to affect."
Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett Would Love to Keep Steelers Out of Playoffs
The Browns can't make the playoffs, but they can spoil the Steelers' postseason hopes.
Cleveland will visit Pittsburgh in Week 18, and a loss by the Steelers would eliminate them from postseason contention. An opportunity to wreck the Steelers' postseason plans sounds very appealing to Cleveland All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett.
"We'd love to do that," Garrett said via wkyc.tv. "We consider them our rivals. Divisionally, if we can't make it, we're definitely going to make sure those guys can't. We're going to do everything in our power. Much respect to them for being in that position, but we live for times like this."
Cleveland will enter the game with momentum after defeating Washington, 24-10, in Week 17.