The Bears defense put every bit of energy and emotion into stopping the potent Chargers offense Sunday. For close to three quarters, the Bears shut out the Chargers, but the team started to emotionally and physically wear down in the fourth quarter.
Not only did the Bears lose 14-3, but they lost two starting defenders. The official word from the Bears locker room is that safety Mike Brown and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek suffered knee sprains and will be evaluated in Chicago on Monday.
There is a good chance Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Dvoracek's could also be serious. Though the team won't confirm, Brown, who missed 28 games over the past three seasons because of injuries, became emotional talking about his injury on a Bears postgame television interview. Dvoracek's injury is also concerning, but it will take a couple days to evaluate the extent of the knee injury.
"We're holding out a little hope, but right now it doesn't look too good," Brown said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It's a sprained knee right now, but it doesn't look too good. It's a shame. It hurts my feelings really bad."
The injuries couldn't have happened at worst spots on the roster.
At defensive tackle, they had to cut Tank Johnson because of off-the-field problems. They lost Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott to free agency. Tommie Harris is coming off a hamstring injury last season in which the hamstring was torn off the bone. But the good news for the Bears is that he played a dominating opener against the Chargers.
Safety is a concern because the team traded Chris Harris, who started in the Super Bowl, to Carolina and wanted to go into the season with Adam Archuleta, Brown, Danieal Manning and Brandon McGowan as the safeties. The loss of Brown takes away a leader and a hard hitter. His impact in stopping the run limited LaDainian Tomlinson to 13 yards on his first 13 carries through three quarters.
"Mike doesn't want us to feel sorry for him," Manning said, according to the Tribune. "He can't get a break. Mike, he showed me a lot today. Just being out there, all those injuries. And even after he got injured, he still came back to the sideline and cheered us on. When you see Mike play, that's how you want to play football. When I go out there on the field, I want to play like him."
If Dvoracek is out, Darwin Walker moves into the starting line and Anthony Adams, who was inactive Sunday, would be the third or fourth defensive tackle. The Bears have had Israel Idonije playing tackle and end.
Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.