January 17, 2024
When you play a football game in sub-zero temperatures, you’re going to see some crazy things happen and some crazy things definitely happened during Saturday’s wild-card game in Kansas City.
With a kickoff temperature of minus-4 degrees — the fourth-coldest game in NFL history — the game produced plenty of moments that you don’t usually see: Water was instantly freezing, Andy Reid’s mustache grew icicles and Patrick Mahomes’ helmet partly SHATTERED after the Chiefs’ quarterback took a vicious hit during the third quarter.
On a second-and-7 play from Miami’s 16-yard line, Mahomes couldn’t find anyone open, so he decided to take off. The Chiefs quarterback was able to gain about 12 yards before he got drilled at the 3-yard line by Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott.
Elliott’s helmet made contact with Mahomes’ helmet, which caused a chunk of Mahomes helmet to break off.
At that point, the officials probably should have stopped the game so Mahomes could get a new helmet, but instead, they let the Chiefs run another play, and as you can see below, Mahomes was missing a solid chunk of his helmet on the play.
The helmet almost certainly shattered due to the frigid temperatures.
Mahomes told reporters postgame that he didn’t realize his helmet was broken until teammates told him, and that he wanted to stay in the game even with a cracked helmet.
“I didn’t know what happened in the moment but I got in the huddle and everyone was telling me, but I was like, ‘I got y’all, but I’m not coming out of the game, so we can figure it out on the sideline,'” Mahomes said. “It was a first for me.”
On Tuesday, VICIS, the company that made Mahomes’ helmet, released a statement about the incident:
“At VICIS, athlete safety is our top priority. Extreme conditions like those experienced in Saturday evening’s NFL playoff game are bound to test the limits of even the highest performing products. While outer shell damage is not ideal, the ZERO2 helmet did its job of protecting Patrick Mahomes during a head-to-head impact in unprecedented cold temperatures. The exclusive multi-layer technology employed in the VICIS ZERO2 helmet model utilizes a deformable outer shell, RFLX impact absorption layer, followed by a stiff inner shell. This design approach is similar to the crumple zone of modern cars, effectively absorbing and dispersing impact forces at the point of contact. This technology, which has earned the top ratings of the NFL Performance Testing rankings and sits atop the Virginia Tech ratings, has been adopted by several athletes across the NFL, NCAA, and throughout high school and youth football.
“VICIS helmets are extensively tested in high-impact conditions across a wide range of temperatures. We are committed to continuing our development of the safest helmets in football and working with our partners in the NFL and other organizations to constantly gain knowledge and continuously advance protective technology. We remain focused on protecting athletes at every level of play by developing the highest performing products available. As the leader in technology advancement within the football protective space, our confidence in the superior performance of our helmet designs has never been greater.”
The aftermath of the play was slightly confusing, because not only was the Chiefs QB allowed to stay on the field, but there was no flag for helmet-to-helmet contact (it could have been thrown on Elliott or even Mahomes for initiating contact) and Mahomes wasn’t forced to leave the game to be checked for a concussion. As NBC rules analyst Terry McAuley noted, at the minimum, Mahomes should have been forced to leave the game for at least one play to get a new helmet.