BALTIMORE — What appeared to be a harmless tackle of Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner in the fourth quarter Sunday became the last play Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis will make this season.
Lewis, 37 and a veteran of 17 NFL seasons, has to decide whether the Ravens' victory Sunday will also be the final game of his Hall of Fame career.
An MRI exam on Monday revealed the Ravens' worst fear: a torn right triceps, is a rare but significant injury that will likely require surgery and an arduous six-month recovery period.
Selected after offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in the first round of the Ravens' first draft in 1996, Lewis is the face of the franchise, one of the NFL's most respected players, and one of the most celebrated linebackers ever.
Lewis always has been non-committal about retirement, saying only that he'll know when it's time. Coach John Harbaugh declined to speculate on whether Lewis played his last game.
"That's for Ray to speak on," Harbaugh said. "I admire Ray Lewis. I've said that many times. I think everybody in this room does. … I'm looking forward to seeing what Ray says about that."
The Ravens are expected to put Lewis and Lardarius Webb (torn ACL, left knee) on injured reserve, ending their seasons. Their losses further deplete a defense ranked an uncharacteristic 26th and has allowed more than 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games for the first time.
BOUNTIES: If the Saints decide Jonathan Vilma is ready, the linebacker will play Sunday for the first time this season, against the Bucs. It might also be the last time, depending on how things go. Vilma again asked a federal judge to overturn his recently re-issued suspension in the bounty probe of the Saints, and the NFL Players Association made a similar request on behalf of three other players. None of the four players' suspensions are currently enforced, but that could change as early as next week. Commissioner Roger Goodell has scheduled the players' appeal hearings for Oct. 23.
Meanwhile, another player implicated in the bounty scandal, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, has a neck injury that might end his career, ESPN reported.
BILLS: Shawne Merriman, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end cut in the preseason, re-signed to bolster a banged-up defense.
BROWNS: Tests revealed running back Trent Richardson has a right rib cartilage injury. Coach Pat Shurmur said the rookie "is fine" and is listed as day-to-day.
CARDINALS: Quarterback Kevin Kolb's status is unknown for Sunday's game at Minnesota after injuring his ribs. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said X-rays were negative for anything broken.
JETS: Running backs Bilal Powell (dislocated right shoulder) and Joe McKnight (high ankle sprain) are both out at least a week, New York's Daily News reported.
PACKERS: Coach Mike McCarthy said starting inside linebacker D.J. Smith (right knee) is out for the season.
TITANS: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will start his third straight game Sunday at Buffalo, and Jake Locker (shoulder) could return in a week.