KANSAS CITY - Against the backdrop of an unthinkable tragedy, the Kansas City Chiefs gave themselves a reason to be proud Sunday, and perhaps the impetus to let the healing begin.
Brady Quinn threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and Jamaal Charles ran for 127 yards in the Chiefs' 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak during one of the most difficult seasons the franchise has ever experienced.
The win came just one day after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times at a residence near Arrowhead Stadium, then drove to the team's practice facility and turned the gun on himself, as general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel looked on.
Pioli walked through the press box before the game and said he was doing "OK," though he didn't stop to talk. Crennel was on the sideline coaching his team to an uplifting victory.
Before the game, fans at Arrowhead Stadium observed a moment of silence for the victims of domestic violence and their families.
The festive atmosphere masked some of the pain Chiefs fans felt after hearing that Belcher had killed 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins and turned the gun on himself. The couple had an infant daughter.
"To have to witness that, I don't think you would wish that on your worst enemy," Chiefs fan Ty Rowton said. "That memory will never, ever leave them."
Missing from the sky above Arrowhead Stadium was the small plane that had carried a banner during previous home games calling for Pioli's firing. Fans, many of whom had been wearing black Chiefs apparel in recent games to protest the team's performance, turned out in red again.
"Now everybody's just in shock," Rowton said.
Arrowhead was less than half full, and quieter than usual, though the fans made some noise when Peyton Hillis scored a touchdown. The big running back took the ball over to the sideline, where he handed it to Crennel and gave the coach a big hug.
Chiefs fan Ben Cunningham, a 32-year-old who has missed only one home game in 23 years, said he feels sorry for the families and friends who now must endure the aftermath of Saturday's shootings, but not for Belcher.
"I don't have much sympathy for him," Cunningham said. "He caused a lot of heartbreak for a lot of people."
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