The heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens defense is done for the season.
Head Coach John Harbaugh delivered the somber news five minutes after hearing it himself Monday afternoon. Ray Lewis is out.
"Ray has a triceps tear," Harbaugh said. "A complete tear. So he'll be out for the season."
It's dark news for a Ravens defense that already has a number of issues.
The Ravens rank 26th in the NFL in average yards allowed per game and are coming off back-to-back games in which they surrendered more than 200 rushing yards. The 227 allowed Sunday to Dallas was a franchise high, and showed tackling issues for Baltimore.
Now the Ravens will be without their leading tackler (57 stops). Lewis has led the Ravens in tackles every year in which he's been healthy. He has 2,643 career tackles.
It will be his third season missing significant time. He played in just five games in 2002 due to a shoulder injury and six games in 2005 because of a hamstring injury. Lewis sat out four games last year because of a toe injury.
The 13-time Pro Bowler suffered the triceps tear with about two minutes remaining in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys while making a tackle on running back Phillip Tanner.
Lewis did not speak to the media after the game as he was getting treatment, but talked to Harbaugh about the injury and expressed his concern that it could be serious.
"He said some things about his faith," Harbaugh said. "And he said some things that I'll never forget. When you look at his situation and what he's accomplished and what he was hoping to accomplish this year, he's going to have to accomplish those things in different ways because that's the way it's gone."
At 37 years old, the natural question is whether this is the end of Lewis' career.
Lewis has done just about everything he could in the sport and will be a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's won a Super Bowl, been the Super Bowl MVP and been the Defensive Player of the Year.
Lewis was looking for another Lombardi Trophy, and has continually pushed away talk of retirement, saying it would be cheating his teammates and fans to walk away from the game before he was ready.
"You know I'm not going to make any comment on that," said Harbaugh, who hadn't yet spoken to Lewis after hearing the news that he's done for the year.
"That's for Ray to speak on. I admire Ray Lewis. I've said that many times. I think everybody in this room does. Everybody that knows him feels that way. I look forward to seeing what he says about that."
For now, the Ravens will use Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and perhaps Albert McClellan to fill in for Lewis. That combination of players helped Baltimore win all four games that Lewis missed last year with his toe injury.
"Guys who are going to be playing are the same guys that stepped up and played last year to a large extent," Harbaugh said. "Those guys have played a lot of football and we have a lot of confidence in those guys."