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Panthers drop another, to grieving Chiefs

By Ron Green Jr.
rgreenjr@charlotteobserver.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs snapped an eight-game losing streak today, beating the Carolina Panthers 27-21 for an emotional victory in Arrowhead Stadium.

The game was played one day after Chiefs player Jovan Belcher killed his 22-year old girlfriend then killed himself at the team's practice facility adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs held a moment of silence before the game to recognize domestic violence victims.

"I explained to (the players) before the game that this was going to be an emotional game for them," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "We had to match their emotion with an energy level. We had to raise our energy level. They played an inspired football game. They did some really good things."

Ryan Succop kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:54 remaining to push the Chiefs' lead to six points, forcing the Panthers to score a touchdown to win. The Panthers couldn't make it happen.

The loss dropped the Panthers to 3-9 while the Chiefs improved to 2-10.

The Panthers couldn't get the Chiefs' offense off the field at times, allowing Kansas City to put together a 17-play, 87-yard scoring drive to extend its lead to 24-14. The Chiefs converted a pair of fourth-down plays on the drive while culminated in a two-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn to Jon Baldwin.

Quinn completed 19 of 23 passes for 197 yards while Cam Newton completed 15 of 27 for 232 yards. Newton's last pass was a 54-yard completion to Steve Smith at the Kansas City 8-yard line but time had expired.

"It's obviously disappointing. It's all the things we've talked about all season long. Nothing's changed. We've got to figure it out," said Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

The Chiefs entered the game last in scoring per game in the NFL, averaging just 14.6 points per game.

Down 10, the Panthers responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive keyed by runs of 20 and 28 yards by Newton. He then threw an 8-yard pass to Louis Murphy for a touchdown, cutting the Kansas City lead to 24-21 with 13:21 remaining.

The Chiefs led 17-14 at halftime, scoring on the final play of the second quarter to regain the lead.

Quinn hit tight end Tony Moeaki in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal, capping an 80-yard drive. The Panthers helped Kansas City with three offsides penalties on the go-ahead drive, including one on defensive end Greg Hardy after the Panthers had stopped Kansas City on third down.

Newton, coming off his best game of the season in a Monday night win at Philadelphia, continued his hot streak by posting a 140 passer rating in the first half.

Newton found tight end Greg Olsen down the middle of the field for a 47-yard scoring strike in the first quarter, then hit wideout Steve Smith for a 23-yard score in the second quarter.

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