The Vikings may have to make their playoff drive without WR Cris Carter.

The NFC's top wide receiver has a sprained ankle, which threatens to halt his 110-game starting streak and may end his season.

"If I can't play the rest of the year, I had a great year," Carter said.

The same cannot be said for the Vikings, who fell to 7-6 with a 31-28 loss to the Chiefs. Carter was hurt in the second quarter and did not return.

"I thought I had torn my Achilles' tendon initially," said Carter, who tore ligaments on the front of his ankle. He was fitted with a cast and a boot on his right ankle yesterday. . . .

Panthers PK John Kasay, the NFC's leading scorer with 99 points, will probably miss the rest of the season because of a serious knee injury.

Coach George Seifert said Kasay tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Sunday's 33-31 victory over the Packers. Doctors have yet to make a decision about scheduling surgery, Seifert said.

EMMITT HURTING: Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith will not know for several days if he will be able to play against the Jets after injuring his groin in Sunday's win over the Eagles. C Mark Stepnoski, who left the game with a strained left calf, is expected to play. . . . Detroit QB Charlie Batch, who has missed the last five games, has a slight fracture in his right thumb. The lingering injury had been thought to be a sprain.