Damar Hamlin: Bengals coach Zac Taylor praises Bills’ Sean McDermott, medical staffs

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor praised his coaching counterpart at Buffalo and both teams’ medical staffs for their quick response when Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday night’s football game.

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Taylor met with reporters for the first time on Wednesday to recap Monday night’s prime-time game against the Bills.

Hamlin, 24, playing in his second season with the Bills, tackled Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins with 5:58 left in the first quarter of a game between two of the AFC’s best teams, The Buffalo News reported. Hamlin stood up but immediately collapsed to the turf. The Bills said that Hamlin went into cardiac arrest; the player was resuscitated on the field and later at the hospital, according to the player’s uncle.

Jordon Rooney, a spokesperson for the family and a friend of Hamlin’s, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the safety’s recovery is moving in “a positive direction” and “we all remain optimistic.” He told the AP he could not go into further detail,

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin and his family and his loved ones, his teammates, coaches, the entire Bills organization,” Taylor told reporters. “We’ve always had a great deal of respect for them, I think that’s grown much deeper with what we’ve all seen transpire. Certainly, we’re pulling for Damar, hoping for the most positive outlook.”

Taylor praised McDermott for his leadership and noted that the Bills coach immediately realized that his player’s condition overshadowed the game, which was a key matchup between AFC rivals, The Sporting News reported.

“I really felt Sean McDermott led that moment for his players,” Taylor said. “He was there for his players. He processed the right way, which is incredibly difficult, and really helped us get to the solution that we needed to get to.”

Taylor added that McDermott’s focus was in the right place, telling the Bengals coach that he needed to be with his injured player.

“The first thing he (McDermott) said was, ‘I need to be at the hospital with Damar. I shouldn’t be coaching this game.’ That showed where his focus was,” Taylor said. “The way he led and processed this (in) the moment helped us make the right decision.”

Taylor added that he was impressed with the composure of the medical staffs of both teams, NBC Sports reported.

“All the medical professionals that were involved, the Bills’ trainers, the Bills’ doctors, our trainers, our doctors, the paramedics, the emergency response team, I thought that they were on it, they were composed, it was obviously a complicated situation on the field that everybody was trying to process,” Taylor told reporters.

Taylor added that Higgins was “handling the situation well,” WLWT reported. Now, the coach and his players are trying to shift their focus to the Baltimore Ravens, their opponent in the regular-season finale for both teams on Sunday.

“You do have to move forward as a team because we have a game Sunday, but you don’t have to move past this situation,” Taylor told reporters.

The coach said that the outpouring of support and prayers from players and fans has been “unbelievable.”

“It’s bigger than football, obviously; it’s taking care of people,” Taylor said. “The outpouring of support has been incredible; it’s not surprising.

“That will be a great day when (Hamlin is) able to see that,” Taylor said.

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