As difficult as it was for the Kansas City Chiefs to play through the murder-suicide of linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, it wasn't ordinary for the Carolina Panthers as they prepared for an opponent that was dealing with such tragedy.
"I ran into Coach (Romeo) Crennel before the game, and I could tell he was really emotional," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Sunday in a postgame phone conversation. "I told our guys that it was going to be an emotional game for them, and we had to match their emotional energy with our own emotional energy. That's definitely what we saw from them. Kudos to them."
Rivera said the lines of communication from the NFL, the Chiefs and the Panthers were open in terms of whether or not the game would be played. Once it was decided the Panthers would travel to Kansas City to play, it was all about getting Rivera's team prepared.
Rivera went on: "We would have liked to have won the football game. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. It's just so unfortunate (what occurred), but both sides had to play and do what we could to make the best of the situation."
Rivera, as a player with Chicago in 1990, said the Bears went through a turbulent emotional strain when defensive lineman Fred Washington was killed in a car accident late in the season. Rivera didn't draw on that when discussing things with his team, but he understood what Chiefs players and coaches and staffers could have been feeling.
"It's hard and emotional, and you go up and down with it," Rivera said.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.