Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed missed Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders as he made his way to his hometown of Minden, Lousiana, to grieve the loss of his brother, T.Q.
According to friend-of-the-site Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star, quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped provide Sneed transportation.
"Such a tragic situation for him — and as a brotherhood, and as an organization, as a team, we're going to go support our brothers," said Mahomes after Kansas City's 48-9 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. "I thought guys played hard for him today. We got the win, and I'm just praying for him and his family because it's a tough deal — and we want him to be in a good spot as a person before anything on the football field."
Despite not having Sneed in the lineup, the Chiefs' defense continued its excellent stretch, holding the Raiders to nine points and 290 yards. The defense forced Las Vegas to five turnovers.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu — the team's most apparent leader — spoke to how much the players were thinking of Sneed throughout the game.
"He's on our mind a lot, man," said Mathieu. "Anytime somebody lose somebody that close to him, obviously, I feel like most of us could relate to that — losing people — but just wanted to play for him today, his family, and I felt like we did that. I thought we started the game with some L'Jarius energy, and so we kind of kept it going throughout the game."
Mathieu said he has been in touch with Sneed here and there throughout the past few days, but he is also allowing him space to grieve.
To fill his void on the field, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had to call on his reserves. Mike Hughes earned the spot start at outside cornerback opposite Charvarius Ward.
"My mindset is always come in to help wherever the team needs me," said Hughes, who had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown on the game's opening play. "That's how I try to approach the game no matter where they try to put me. I'm willing to do it if it's going to help the team. That's all that matters to me."
Mathieu had many more snaps handling the slot than usual.
"I got a text at like 5 [Saturday] morning," said Mathieu, speaking of his role change against the Raiders. "It's like, 'Hey, we're going to do this, this week.' I was like, 'Alright.'
"For the most part, obviously, I got a good feel for all five positions back there, and I think I'm one of those guys that can go play really anything and kind of get us through the game or out [of] the game... and then it always feels good when you can kind of go back to the position that you first started at. It kind of makes you feel young again."
Mathieu had five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery as part of the effort to get it done for Sneed.
"Before the game, we said that we were going to play for him," added Hughes. "And we got our brother's back. No matter what's going on, I think he's dealing with a tough situation right now. [I won't] get into it. That's his business.
"But we wanted to play for him today — and we went out there and did that. That felt good, to get that 'dub' for him."