Meyler's departure on a stretcher, which preceded a hamstring injury to Danny Welbeck, overshadowed a 1-0 victory that came courtesy of Phil Bardsley's first ever Premier League goal.
The Republic of Ireland international ruptured his cruciate ligaments in May, and only returned to firstteam action in last month's goalless draw.
He turned in an impressive performance in last weekend's 3-0 victory over Blackburn, and in the absence of the injured Lee Cattermole, Bruce picked him for the second time in five days last night.
Meyler could have injured himself anyway, but his manager will forever be wondering what might have happened had he erred on the side of caution.
He looks as if he's ruptured the same cruciate knee ligaments he damaged last season, said Bruce. He'll be out for about six months and we're devastated. We're pleased with the result, but when you see a young lad like that suffer another serious injury, it's terrible.
I asked him to play four or five days after his first full 90 minutes, and that was always in the back of my mind. When he's been out for eight months, it's always a slight risk.
I'm kicking myself now, but with Lee unavailable, I didn't really have a choice. Well, I did, but I didn't really have anyone who could make the kind of impact that David can. He did that on Saturday against Blackburn, and that's why I played him.
With Welbeck due to undergo a scan on his damaged hamstring this morning, Bruce could be without up to ten senior players when Sunderland take on Notts County in the FA Cup third round this weekend.
The likes of Nedum Onuoha, Michael Turner, Cattermole and Fraizer Campbell are already on the injury list, and Bruce feels Sunderland are suffering from the demands of the English fixture list.
I think our injury list is into double figures now and, for me, the fixture list is ridiculous, he said.
Danny injured his hamstring in the 75th minute, and that's down to one thing fatigue.
A player can play every day of the week if you want him to, but to play in the Premier League is different. You get people playing when they shouldn't be, and they get injured because of the intensity.
To ask the players to play five games in 13 days is a nonsense.
Surely, we have to have a bit of common sense in the future.
Bardsley's long-range strike was the full-back's first Premier League goal in more than 120 appearances, and was good enough to have won any game.
It took a deflection of (Ahmed) Elmohamady, but I don't think there's any doubt that he'll be claiming it, said Bruce. To be fair, it was going in anyway and was a wonderful strike.
The aftermath of the match is disappointing, but the result itself is massively pleasing. It's another big result for us.