KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes walked back to the huddle in the third quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ wild-card playoff win over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night, looked around at his teammates and couldn’t figure out why they were all staring at him.
Might have had something to do with the hole in his helmet.
The reigning league MVP had shattered it on a hit from Miami safety DeShon Elliott on the previous play, when Mahomes was scrambling for a first down. Mahomes had seen the goal line just in front of him, so rather than slide for safety, he went for it — and took a big hit that included a clash of helmets that sent a shard of red plastic flying.
“I was trying to get there. A young Pat would have gotten in,” Mahomes said with a smile. “I try not to do it too much, but it’s playoff time, and sometimes you have to put it on the line to get in the end zone and win football games.”
Rarely do helmets fail in such a manner. But then again, rarely is it below zero at kickoff of a football game.
“I’m sure it had to do with it being really cold,” Mahomes said, “but yeah, I didn’t know that happened in the moment. I got to the huddle and everyone was telling me, and I was like, ‘I got you all, but I’m not coming out of the game.’”
The temperature at kickoff was minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of minus-27, making it the fourth-coldest in NFL history. And that might well have made the shell of Mahomes’ helmet more brittle than usual. So when it clashed with Elliott’s helmet, Mahomes was left with a fist-sized chunk missing from the outer layer just above his left eye.
“He knew his helmet was cracked, and he just tried to go on to the next play,” Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice said. “He was like, ‘Come on. Get the play. Get the play.’ But he switched out the helmet, and he didn’t like it.”
The one he had been wearing was warm and cozy. The backup had been sitting on the sideline all night.
“We have to talk about where we store the backup. It was like, frozen,” Mahomes said. “I tried to put it on and couldn’t get it on, but we were able to adjust it on the sideline and get it right.”
Mahomes wound up throwing for 262 yards and a touchdown as the Chiefs rolled to the 26-7 victory over the Dolphins, sending home a happy bunch of Chiefs fans that had braved the elements to watch their 15th consecutive home playoff game.
“I mean, it’s negative-30 or whatever it is out here and there’s not an empty seat in the stands. People are staying after,” Mahomes said. “I’m glad we got to get the win for them and didn’t make them come out here for no reason.”