KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The worst fears surrounding running back Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs without one of the NFL’s top running backs are potentially coming true.
“Preliminary reports, it probably looks more like a torn ACL than anything,” coach Andy Reid said Sunday during his postgame media session. “He’ll have an MRI on it tomorrow and we’ll see how that goes.”
Charles suffered the potential season-ending knee injury on the Chiefs’ opening drive of the third quarter on what appeared to occur without contact against the Chicago Bears.
On first-and-goal at the Bears’ 9-yard line, Charles approached the line of scrimmage after the snap before crumpling to the ground and immediately grabbed for his right knee.
Chiefs medical staff and trainers rushed on the field to Charles’ side, while an eerie hush fell over Arrowhead Stadium. Numerous Chiefs and Bears players took a knee on the field and silently observed while Charles received attention.
“I took a knee and said a prayer,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said, “just praying for the best.”
The moment proved overwhelming for backup running back Charcandrick West, who filled in for Charles and finished the game with 31 yards rushing on seven carries.
“Charles is one of the tougher guys in the NFL, so I’m thinking he’s going to get up,” West said. “But to see that, it brought tears to my eyes. It’s a heartbreaking moment.”
Charles lay on the ground for a few minutes before he stood with help from Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and outside linebacker Justin Houston. Charles had his right arm around Burkholder and left arm around Houston for support and could not place weight on his right leg.
Kanas City’s medical and training staff spent time with Charles on the sideline trainer’s table looking at his right knee before moving him to the locker room, where he was eventually ruled out.
Prior to the injury, the Chiefs built a 17-3 lead and were driving for more points. Kicker Cairo Santos came on the field to attempt a 27-yard field goal two plays after Charles left, but the Bears blocked the attempt.
The loss of Charles also affected the Chiefs’ momentum.
“I thought we came out in the second half and we’re rolling, marched right down the field, get inside the 10,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “From there, production quit. I don’t know if that was it or what. I felt like a little bit, offensively, we went into a shell there for a little while and just didn’t get anything done.”
With Charles out of the game and the Chiefs struggling to sustain drives in the second half, the game swung in Chicago’s favor as the Bears scored 15 unanswered points to hand the Chiefs a fourth straight defeat, 18-17.
Charles, who suffered an ACL tear to his left knee in Week 2 of the 2011 season, finished the game with 58 yards rushing on 12 carries, adding one catch for 26 yards.
For now, the Chiefs will turn to West and Knile Davis to fill the void left by Charles.
“We’ll end up using both,” Reid said. “I’m not saying who the feature guy is or not the feature guy, but we’ll need both of them.”