The Bears didn't want to call Mike Brown's Achilles injury a season-ender until further examination, but all indications were that's the case.
His wife, Erin, had been summoned to the locker room after he was carried off on a cart, and some players said they expected a season-ending injury.
``We're going to miss him,'' linebacker Lance Briggs said. ``He's one of the captains. He's the leader on our team. We're going to be sad to see him go for now. But the bottom line is we have 14 more games to go, Mike is going to be with us in heart. We've got to continue on.''
``I'd trade this game right now to have Mike back,'' linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ``A win is great and all, but I'd trade it to have (No.) 30 out there in our next game.''
Brown has been a durable performer for the Bears. He has never missed a game in his four plus years in the league and has started 65 of 66 games in his career. As a team captain, Brown is a vocal leader on and off the field.
The news of the injury is a crushing blow considering Sunday's victory is the biggest the team has had since the 2001 season, in which Brown became a household name when he came up with game-winning interception returns for touchdowns in overtime in consecutive weeks.
Brown has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and that proved true against Green Bay.
Just when the Packers looked primed to regain a 10-7 lead late in the first half, Brian Urlacher forced Ahman Green to fumble on first down and goal. Brown scooped up the ball and returned it 95 yards, which gave the Bears a commanding 14-3 advantage at the half.
Green, who went over 100 yards on the previous carry, is notorious for his fumbling problems and a direct hit from Urlacher was more than enough to jar the ball loose. He then gave Brown a clear path to the goal line by blocking Brett Favre.
The touchdown is the fifth of Brown's career, which sets a new team record for most defensive scores. He came into the season tied with Bennie McRae with four touchdowns.
Brown has returned three interceptions for touchdowns: a 35-yarder vs. New Orleans (Oct. 8, 2000), a 33-yarder vs. San Francisco (Oct. 28, 2001) and a 16-yarder vs. Cleveland (Oct. 15, 2001).
The fumble return against Green Bay is the second of his career. He also returned a fumble 62 yards for a score against Buffalo (Sept. 2, 2002).
In the meantime, there are two options to replace Brown at free safety.
Brown is the active leader on the team with 11 career interceptions. The trio of Green, Gray and Johnson had one interception combined coming into the season. Green has come up with a pick in the first two games of the year and Gray added his first career interception against Green Bay.
While all three will be in the mix when the team goes to their nickel package, the best option would likely be to go with the Johnson-Green combination.
Johnson had a solid training camp and is a better all-around player than Gray, who despite today's interception often goes for the big hit rather than the ball.
No matter what the coaching staff decides the defense will be without one of their biggest playmakers.