London — Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the second quarter of Sunday's win over the Atlanta Falcons and missed the remainder of the game.
After the 22-21 victory, coach Jim Caldwell said he was "not certain" if Fairley's injury would end his season.
"I'm not quite certain where he is right now, in a sense, but obviously, (we had) to carry him off the field so that's not the greatest news," Caldwell said. "But, we'll see what the doctors say about it."
If the injury is serious, it could be costly for Fairley, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2015. The 2011 first-round pick was in the midst of a strong and consistent season, particularly as a run stuffer. In the first seven games, he had 14 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.
On a third down at the Atlanta 12, Fairley hit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after a pass, and fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh collided with Fairley, bending back his right leg.
Fairley lay on his back for minutes as trainers examined him, but as medical workers carried a stretcher onto the field, he limped off with the help of trainers.
"Nick, he's not the type of person (who wants) you to feel sorry for him," defensive end Jason Jones said. "He didn't want people coming up to him. He knows it's an injury and football happens.
"He didn't want anybody to pick him up off the field. He wanted to get up on his own, so that just shows how tough he is."
Fairley went to the trainer's table for further examination and covered his head with a towel. A few minutes later, he took a cart to the Lions' locker room.
While Fairley was on the ground, Suh mostly stayed to himself on a knee. After the game, he said he was unsure what happened on the play.
"I just saw him grab his leg, and it kind of went from there," Suh said. "There's so many things going on, it's so fast, I just saw him grab his leg and that's it."
No matter the extent of Fairley's injury, it was a devastating injury in the game. The Lions trailed 14-0 and 21-0 shortly after the injury, and with C.J. Mosley suspended for violating team rules Saturday, they were without their second- and third-best tackles.
Jones and Darryl Tapp played inside, Suh played more than usual and rookie Caraun Reid played a significantly expanded role to account for the absence of Mosley and Fairley.
Despite losing Fairley, the Lions defense played impeccably in the second half, allowing just 90 yards and zero points to give the offense a chance to mount its improbable comeback.