Panthers 21

(3-9, 2-4 away)

Chiefs 27

(2-10, 1-6 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 2, 2012

Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 7 7 0 721
KC 10 7 7 327

Top Performers

Passing: C. Newton (CAR) - 232 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: J. Charles (KC) - 27 CAR, 127 YDS

Receiving: S. Smith Sr. (CAR) - 5 REC, 120 YDS, 1 TD

Brady Quinn throws two TDs as Chiefs win in wake of tragedy

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Romeo Crennel stood in the middle of the Kansas City Chiefs' locker room Sunday, the emotion threatening to overcome the good-natured coach.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was at his side, offering support. Members of the team hugged each other, the mud smearing with tears on their cheeks. And over along the wall stood the empty locker that once belonged to Jovan Belcher, his jersey still hanging from a hook.

Just one day after the linebacker killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself, the Chiefs banded together to play their finest game of the season, an inspired 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers that ended an eight-game losing streak suddenly rendered trivial.

"As far as playing the game, I thought that was the best for us to do, because that's what we do," Crennel said, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. "We're football players and football coaches and that's what we do, we play on Sunday."

According to authorities, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times early Saturday at a residence near Arrowhead Stadium, then sped to the team's practice facility and turn the gun on himself as Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli watched in the parking lot.

Pioli walked through the press box before the game and said he was doing "OK."

"It's been an incredibly difficult 24 hours for our family and our entire organization," Hunt said. "We have so many guys on our team and our coaching staff who are really, really hurting."

Chiefs players gathered in the tunnel leading to the field for a brief prayer before their pregame stretching. A few fans in the half-empty stadium held up signs referencing the shootings, and there was a moment of silence to remember all victims of domestic violence.

Kansas City police have not released a motive for the shootings, which claimed the life of Belcher and 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, and left a 3-month-old girl, Zoey, an orphan.

"I'm just trying to get through the rest of today," said the Chiefs' Brady Quinn, who threw his first two touchdown passes in three years. "The emotions of what has taken place will probably hit home for a few guys the next few days, when they realize what's taken place."

Cam Newton threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers (3-9), who were informed the game would be played as scheduled while they were heading to Kansas City on Saturday.

DeAngelo Williams added 67 yards rushing, carrying the load with Jonathan Stewart out with an injury. Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Louis Murphy caught Carolina's TD passes.

"You definitely feel for them. What they are going through is tragic," Olsen said. "But we have a job to do. Our job is to come here and prepare to win. They wouldn't expect any less."

Peyton Hillis had a touchdown run for Kansas City (2-10), while Tony Moeaki and Jon Baldwin had touchdown catches. Ryan Succop hit a pair of field goals, including a 52-yarder with 4:54 left that forced the Panthers try for a touchdown to steal the win.

Instead, they went three-and-out, and the Chiefs were able to run the clock down to 31 seconds before giving back the ball. Newton completed two quick passes to reach the Carolina 38, but his final heave as time expired was caught by Smith short of the end zone.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera greeted Crennel at midfield and gave him a hug.

"They played an inspired football game," Rivera said. "They did some really good things, and we have to give them credit, because they suffered through a very difficult time."

The emotions were raw even after the kickoff.

Kansas City took the opening possession and marched 74 yards in just six plays, including a 21-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe and a 34-yarder to Baldwin that got the Chiefs to the Carolina 2.

Hillis powered in to score the first touchdown for Kansas City on the opening possession of a game since Dec. 26, 2010. It was also the first touchdown drive engineered by Quinn since December 2009, when he helped the Browns beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Hillis ran to the sideline after scoring his first touchdown of the season and handed the ball to Crennel, then gave the guy who managed to hold the team together a hug.

The Panthers answered with a long touchdown drive of their own. The big play came when safety Abe Elam watched Olsen haul in a 47-yard pass from Newton for the tying touchdown.

The Chiefs had tacked on a field goal when the Panthers struck again, this time after Newton completed three passes to convert third downs, the last finding Smith in the end zone.

But Kansas City finished off the half with one of its best drives of the year, an 80-yard march that took up the final 7:25. Hillis was stuffed at the line on third-and-goal, and Crennel allowed the clock to hit 2 seconds before calling timeout. On the final play of the half, Quinn saw Moeaki open in the back of the end zone and delivered a soft toss for a 17-14 lead.

Breathing room came late in the third quarter when the Chiefs used 17 plays to go 87 yards on a drive that lasted another 10 minutes. Quinn finished it with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin.

Carolina mounted a comeback with the opening drive of the fourth quarter, with Newton hitting Murphy on a quick slant route from the 8 to get the Panthers within a field goal. But the Chiefs added their own field goal, and then burned enough of the clock to ensure the victory.

One that allowed the Chiefs to celebrate in the midst of their mourning.

"There were pockets in the game where reality hits you again, and that's sobering," said Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker. "I've been telling people, Jovan was like a brother to us. His family was family to us. Our hearts go out to them, man, and the game maybe took our heads off it for a while -- it brought us closer as a team today, I think -- but it's never going to be easy."

Game notes

Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers (hamstring), S Abe Elam (left leg) and LB Derrick Johnson (left hamstring) left the game with injuries. Carolina lost LB James Anderson (eye), Murphy (foot) and S Sherrod Martin (right knee) during the game. ... Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe caught four passes to move into third place in franchise history with 413 catches. ... Carolina has attempted 11 FGs this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1923
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5167
Total Yards385355
Yards per play7.55.3
Total Drives89
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders

Smith Sr.512024.0153

Scoring Summary

kcTD11:53Peyton Hillis 2 Yard Run (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yds, 3:11
carTD8:55Greg Olsen 47 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yds, 3:03
kcFG3:25Ryan Succop 42 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 56 yds, 5:26
carTD13:34Steve Smith 23 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 4:53
kcTD0:02Tony Moeaki 1 Yard Pass From Brady Quinn (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yds, 7:25
kcTD2:56Jonathan Baldwin 3 Yard Pass From Brady Quinn (Ryan Succop Kick is Good)
Drive info: 17 plays, 87 yds, 9:56
carTD13:26Louis Murphy 8 Yard Pass From Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 4:31
kcFG4:59Ryan Succop 52 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 39 yds, 2:36

Research Notes

QBR: Brady Quinn posted a 97.6 Total QBR in Sunday's win over the Panthers, his career high as a starter. Quinn had never previously had a single-game QBR above 80 as a starter and hadn't had a game above 60 since Week 15 of 2009.
Brady Quinn completed 19 of his 23 passes against the Panthers. His completion percentage of 82.6 set the franchise record (min. 20 attempts).
With 78 rush yards so far against the Chiefs, Cam Newton is the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for at least 500 yards in each of his first two seasons.
The Chiefs scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the game for the first time since December 26, 2010. FROM ELIAS: They had gone 28 straight weeks without scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the longest active streak in the NFL.

ESPN Stats & Information