Michigan State Police said Burleson crashed a GMC Yukon SUV into the interstate's median near Drake Road just after 2 a.m.
Police dashcam from the crash scene shows Burleson being escorted to an ambulance while holding his arm.
Police said the 32-year-old was "distracted" by two large pizzas that were falling off his front seat and alcohol wasn't a factor in the crash. Burleson was wearing his seat belt and had been on his way home from watching Monday Night Football with friends.
The crash disheartened Lions fans, who thought the team’s long run of bad luck was finally changing.
"I feel bad, to be honest,” said Mario Sulaksana, of Ann Arbor.” He’s a really charismatic leader."
Uncut video: Police discuss Burleson crash
The crash broke two bones in Burleson's left forearm. Local 4 medical expert Dr. Frank McGeorge says one of those bones --the radius --allows the forearm to twist.
"More than likely he’s going to end up with plates and screws in there to hold them in their proper position,” said McGeorge. “If he heals well and tolerates surgery, it wouldn’t be any surprise if he were back to some degree of mobility after six weeks."
Coach Jim Schwartz said Burleson will undergo surgery on both bones in his forearm Wednesday.
"He was down. He just came off his best performance as a Lion," said Schwartz of Burleson's mood.
Burleson had just recovered from a broken leg last season, and Schwartz said the same doctor who treated his leg break will treat his arm.
Schwartz said he couldn't comment on whether Burleson would be kept off the field for the rest of the season. Schwartz did say that no matter what, Burleson would still have a presence on the team -- traveling with them.
In a Facebook post, Reggie Bush expressed well wishes for Burleson.
"Wow thoughts and prayers with my fallen teammate Nate Burleson wishing him a speedy recovery," Bush wrote.
Burleson has made a team-high 19 catches and his 239 yards receiving trail only teammate Calvin Johnson this season. The 11-year veteran had six receptions for 116 yards Sunday -- his highest total since 2007 -- to help Detroit win in Washington for the first time in franchise history.
The Lions likely will have to lean on other receivers, such as Ryan Broyles, this Sunday at home against the Chicago Bears in a matchup of the two NFC North teams off to the best start through three weeks.
Burleson has a valid drivers license from his home state of Washington, four days ago he ended a brief license suspension by taking care of two unpaid tickets.