CINCINNATI -- The Week 17 game between the Bengals and Bills has been canceled and will not continue, the league announced Thursday night.

Monday's game was suspended with less than six minutes left in the first quarter when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle. His heartbeat was restored on the field before he was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

"This has been a very difficult week," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Thursday. "We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them."

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Doctors said earlier in the day that Hamlin has shown "substantial improvement," including communicating through writing and moving his hands and feet, though he remains considered critically ill.

In announcing the decision to cancel the game, the NFL cited three key factors: The outcome would have no bearing on which teams qualified for the postseason; playing the game would have altered the playoff schedule for the remaining teams; and not playing the game would allow all clubs to know the postseason possibilities before the start of Week 18.

At the time of the stoppage, the Bengals were leading 7-3. NFL officials have maintained that there were no plans for the game to continue Monday following Hamlin's collapse and transportation to the hospital.

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