(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) There were questions entering Sunday's football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers whether it should even be played so soon after Saturday morning's tragic events. But head coach Romeo Crennel said afterward that they needed to play.
"After talking with the captains, they also felt like it was best that we play if for no other reason, it takes our mind off our misery for a few hours," Crennel said.
A little more than 24 hours after the Kansas City Chiefs organization suffered through its darkest moments, the team played its best game of the season in a 27-21 win over Carolina.
Kansas City did not turn the ball over in a game for the first time all season, and was only penalized once.
"The focus that it took for us to be able to get that done was good," Crennel said. "The fact that they had to lean on each other a little bit more this week was helpful for them."
But it will take time getting past the traumatic events from Saturday morning that began with Jovan Belcher shooting his 22-year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins nine times at their home, and ended with him committing suicide in front of Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
"We've brought in counselors that are going to be available," Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "They were introduced to the team last night. They're going to have resources that they can turn to."
According to Crennel and linebacker Derrick Johnson, there were no clues that Belcher would lash out like he did Saturday, and he had always been a good teammate.
"Jovan was....Never had and enemy on the team," Johnson said after the game, still trying to wrap his mind around the previous days events. "He was just a perfect teammate."
"Jovan was a good teammate, a hard worker, sat in the front of the room all the time," Crennel said. "You don't expect anything like what happened."
Belcher and Perkins' three-month old daughter Zoey will grow up without her parents, but the Chiefs plan to do everything they can to improve her life.
"We're going to try to put together a fund for her," quarterback Brady Quinn said after the game. "Obviously without having either parent in her life now, I think it's important that she understands the type of love that she should get from a family. Jovan was part of our family, and we make sure to take care of our own, so we want to try to put together a fund."
Now after seeing Saturday's tragic events unfold, Johnson is urging everyone to keep their eyes open to signs that someone is not well. He believes it could have saved two lives Saturday.
"We need to talk to each other more as men, not as football players, I mean in life," Johnson said. "Generally men don't really show their feelings. They don't talk about what's going on, they don't cry. They don't show emotion. To have an act like this go on yesterday, it could have been avoided."
The Chiefs have a few days to spend with their families before getting back on the road.
Kansas City plays at Cleveland next Sunday.