Cornerback Eric Allen, one of the major reasons the Oakland Raiders have gone from the NFL's worst defense in 1997 to one of its best this year, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee.
Allen, tied for second in the NFL with five interceptions, was injured in Sunday's 20-17 victory over Seattle.
"The most frustrating thing is my two little kids won't see me play," Allen said today. "It's ironic to end the season on an interception."
Allen said he expects to have surgery this week. Allen has missed only one game in his 11-year NFL career, against Philadelphia in 1989, with an ankle injury.
He was injured while returning an interception in the first half of Sunday's game.
"It wasn't like a pop," he said. "It was like a rubber band. It stretched but it didn't pop."
Allen, obtained by the Raiders in a March trade from the New Orleans Saints, has joined rookie cornerback Charles Woodson in transforming the Raiders' offense. Oakland ranks second overall in defense in the league.
"It's going to be difficult to replace his level of play," free safety Albert Lewis said. "We have some people that can come in, but whether they can play at Eric's level is a question. It's a tremendous loss."
Allen's injury further decimated a secondary that already was missing starting free safety Eric Turner because of a sprained right foot that has kept him out of the lineup since Oct. 11. Also, strong safety Anthony Newman hurt a toe and ankle Sunday against Seattle.
Newman was scheduled for an MRI. he seriousness of his injuries were not known, but Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he was questionable for Sunday's game at Denver.
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