Hillis ran to the sideline after the score, giving Crennel the ball and a hug.
The Panthers answered with a long touchdown drive of their own, the big play a 47-yard touchdown pass to Olsen. The Chiefs tacked on a field goal before Carolina scored again, this time on a pass to Smith in the corner of 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 on 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.