From Comcast SportsNetKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- 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."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.
SANTA CLARA – Running back Carlos Hyde left the game Thursday night in the first quarter with a hip injury. At the time, the 49ers announced he was questionable to return.
But there was nothing questionable about Hyde’s effort, as he was in and out of the lineup in the first half before playing almost all of the second half. Hyde played 61 of the 49ers’ 82 offensive plays (including snaps nullified by penalties) in the team’s 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.
“I knew that it was going to be tough coming into this game,” said Hyde, who gained 84 difficult yards and two touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts.
“I didn’t expect anything less from the Rams. They always play us tough, especially in the run game. I knew that it would take the extra effort to get 1 or 2 yards extra to move the chains.”
Afterward Hyde appeared to be fine though he got a lot of attention from the 49ers’ medical staff early in the game. He exited after his third rushing attempt, landing on his left side on back-to-back plays on which he gained 20 and 3 yards.
“I landed weird on my oblique,” Hyde said. “And it got sore on me. But as I kept playing, the better it felt. When I went to the sideline, that’s when I felt it. When I was in the game, I didn’t feel it at all.”
Hyde said the injury was a bruise and not any kind of muscle strain.
Four of Hyde’s teammates, however, did not return after sustaining injuries:
--Fullback Kyle Juszczyk sustained what the club initially described as a neck injury, as he appeared shaken up after back-to-back plays on which he blocked at the goal line for Hyde in the third quarter. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.
--Safety Jaquiski Tartt was injured late in the third quarter after combining for a tackle on Rams receiver Robert Woods 25 yards down the field. His teammate, defensive lineman Earl Mitchell, inadvertently kneed Tartt in the head as he pursued the play. Tartt was immediately taken to the locker room and diagnosed with a concussion.
--Backup linebacker and core special-teams player Brock Coyle was also diagnosed with a concussion in the second half. Coyle, Juszczyk and Tartt are now in the NFL concussion protocol. The 49ers return to action Oct. 1 at the Arizona Cardinals.
--Defensive lineman Tank Carradine had a difficult time walking on his own as he left the stadium with an orthopedic boot on his right foot. Carradine sustained an ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return to action.
Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:
Quarterback – Brian Hoyer 82
Running back – Carlos Hyde 61, Kyle Juszczyk 26, Matt Breida 16, Raheem Mostert 8
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 69, Marquise Goodwin 59, Trent Taylor 39, Aldrick Robinson 27, Victor Bolden 2
Tight end – George Kittle 39, Garrett Celek 36, Logan Paulsen 27
Offensive line – Joe Staley 82, Trent Brown 82, Daniel Kilgore 82, Brandon Fusco 82, Laken Tomlinson 82, Garry Gilliam 1
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 61, Arik Armstead 55, Earl Mitchell 50, Solomon Thomas 38, Tank Carradine 29, Aaron Lynch 14, D.J. Jones 13, Elvis Dumervil 10
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 67, Ray-Ray Armstrong 66, Eli Harold 26, Brock Coyle 2
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 65, Rashard Robinson 65, K’Waun Williams 42
Safety – Jimmie Ward 67, Jaquiski Tartt 48, Lorenzo Jerome 19
Dekoda Watson 28, Elijah Lee 21, Celek 21, Mostert 21, Adrian Colbert 20, Asa Jackson 19, Coyle 18, Harold 18, Jerome 18, Bolden 17, Bradley Pinion 16, Paulsen 16, Johnson 14, Breida 11, Kyle Nelson 9, R.Robinson 9, Robbie Gould 7, Buckner 7, Armstead 7, Mitchell 7, Tartt 7, Ward 7, Zane Beadles 6, Staley 6, Kilgore, 6, Fusco 6, Brown 6, Carradine 6, Gilliam 6, Armstrong 3, A.Robinson 3, Bowman 2, Jones 2, Juszczyk 2, Taylor 1, Thomas 1
DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard
WR Kendrick Bourne
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
DB Eric Reid (knee)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
OL Erik Magnuson
DL Xavier Cooper
SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3 on Thursday night:
1. The offense is alive
It was a rough start for quarterback Brian Hoyer. His interception on the first pass attempt of the game was exactly how the team did not want to see him bounce back from a horrendous offensive showing against Seattle.
But Hoyer rebounded with a more-than respectable performance after his interception led to the Rams' first touchdown -- just 12 seconds into the game. Hoyer completed 23 of 37 for 332 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Still, everything is not running smoothly with the passing game. The receivers do not always seem to be running crisp routes. Hoyer is not putting his passes in great spots. And the receivers have far too many drops.
But with Carlos Hyde running hard – 84 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts – and the passing game showing some signs of life, the offense under coach Kyle Shanahan should get better and better.
2. Defensive letdown
The defense is the side of the ball that was supposed to carry the 49ers. And after solid showings in the first two games of the season, the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain against a vastly improved Rams offense.
Again, the 49ers did not supply much of a pass rush. The run defense was pretty good for most of the game, but Jared Goff picked the 49ers apart because he has time to wait for his talented receiving corps of Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins to get open against the 49ers’ over-stressed secondary.
Third downs have killed the 49ers’ defense. The unit simply cannot get off the field in crucial situations. The Rams were successful on eight of their 12 plays on third downs. The defense has to find a level of consistency. And they are clearly missing rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who has not played since the opening 11 plays of the opener due to a high ankle sprain.
3. Time to recover
The 49ers have a long week, and that comes at a good time with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle in the NFL’s concussion protocol after sustaining injuries in the second half.
Juszczyk appeared to be shaken up when he went head-to-head with Rams safety Mark Barron as a lead blocker on a third-down run play for Hyde. He was slow to get up but remained on the field for the fourth-down play. He made a block on Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run, and again was slow to get up. He did not return to action due to a concussion.
Defensive lineman Tank Carradine sustained a right ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He left the locker room walking slowly while wearing an orthopedic boot after the game.
The 49ers return to action Oct. 1 at the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers must get some of their players back in order to have any hope of avoiding an 0-4 start, including getting swept in their first round through the NFC West.