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The Seattle Seahawks are facing the very real prospect of meeting the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next weekend without their top pass-rusher.
Defensive end Chris Clemons was forced to exit Sunday's 24-14 wild-card win over the Washington Redskins with a knee injury. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported the Seahawks fear Clemons tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
"It's a shame," Clemons' agent, Donal Henderson, told Rapoport. "He's worked so hard to get there."
Henderson said Clemons' knee is not sore but feels "loose." Henderson said it's believed to be an ACL issue, and he blamed the "crappy" conditions at FedEx Field for contributing to the injury. Clemons was wearing 3/4-inch cleats to get footing on the sloppy turf.
If an MRI confirms an ACL tear, Clemons will undergo surgery in the near future. Given the timing, Clemons' availability for the start of training camp next summer also will be put into question.
Seahawks 24, Redskins 14
Check out the best photos from the wild-card matchup between the Seahawks and Redskins.
This is a big loss for Pete Carroll's defense, which leans hard on Clemons to bring consistent pressure from the edge. Clemons led the Seahawks with 11.5 sacks this season, adding 40 tackles, three forced fumbles and four passes defended.
The Falcons have struggled to protect quarterback Matt Ryan at times, but their task becomes less imposing with Clemons out of the picture. More responsibility will fall on Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin, who had eight sacks in his rookie season.
In other injury news, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said kicker Steven Hauschka played through a calf injury against the Redskins. "We don't know where it's going yet," Carroll said.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.
Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.