The Buffalo Bills lost more than a 24-16 decision to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. A lot more.
Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes suffered what is believed to be a torn right Achilles tendon in the second quarter. The Bills haven't made an official announcement yet, but all indications are that Spikes will miss the rest of the season.
It is devastating news to a Bills defense that relied so heavily on Spikes' playmaking ability. He has been the Bills' most dominant defender and a major reason the defense ranked second in the league in each of his first two years in Buffalo.
Spikes also has been remarkably durable, missing just one of 114 career games. The game he missed -- in 2001 while playing in Cincinnati -- was to attend his father's funeral.
The Bills' locker room was subdued at the prospect of losing Spikes.
"We lost one of our leaders," said strong safety Lawyer Milloy. "To fill that void is hard."
The players unanimously agreed that Spikes' presence will be missed the most.
"Everybody knows he's a great talent, but just having him on the field and doing the things he does makes everybody better," linebacker Jeff Posey said.
"We'll miss him from a defensive standpoint and from a team standpoint because he is one of the leaders on our team," added middle linebacker London Fletcher.
Spikes' leadership was evident at halftime when he gave the team a passionate speech.
"Takeo comes in at halftime after he's hurt," quarterback J.P. Losman said. "He's upset. You could see it in his eyes. You could hear it in his voice. He brought us up and said, 'Even with that half, even with the first half of the Texans game, it's not good enough. We're way better than that.' "
The Bills' defense must figure out how to carry on without its best player. Angelo Crowell replaced Spikes on Sunday and will likely make his first start next week when the Bills face the New Orleans Saints in San Antonio.
"This is the NFL," Posey said. "When one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up. Not only his replacement, but the defense as a whole. It has to be a group effort."