BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots running back Rex Burkhead was hit hard in the right knee early in the second half of Sunday’s game in Houston, sending him out of the game with an apparent knee injury.

After the game — which the Patriots lost, 27-20 — The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported what was apparent on the play: The Patriots believe Burkhead tore his ACL.

Head coach Bill Belichick’s somber tone indicated that the Patriots do indeed fear the worst for Burkhead, but Belichick said the team will wait for an MRI to confirm.

“I talked to him and we’ll wait and get medical confirmation,” Belichick said. “But obviously, he has a knee injury.”

The injury occurred on a third-and-1 from the New England 34-yard line on the opening drive of the second half. Burkhead ran around the left end looking for a hole, but Bradley Roby came flying into the picture.

It looked as though Roby’s helmet directly hit Burkhead on his right knee. The running back went down and lay on the turf without moving for several moments after the play.

Medical personnel tended to Burkhead, and both teams gathered around the injured player.

After showing one replay, the CBS broadcast opted to forego any more replays of the hit, due to the graphic nature of the collision.

Burkhead eventually made his way to the blue medical tent on the sideline. After a brief evaluation, he was carted to the New England locker room, ending his day.

“I’m hurt for him. I’m still hurting for him,” fellow running back James White said. “He’s a good friend of mine — not just a teammate, but a guy I call my friend. To see him go down like that is never good. … It’s just tough, man. Just hate to see it.”

“It’s extremely devastating,” quarterback Cam Newton said. “Knowing how great of a teammate he is, knowing how great of a leader he is, knowing what he brings to this team. But he’s a warrior, and I know he’ll be back stronger. And his influence will be missed.”

Burkhead entered the game with 267 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, plus 187 yards and three more touchdowns on the season. His six touchdowns rank second on the time, behind only Cam Newton (9).

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