NFL wild-card: Patrick Mahomes' cracked helmet causes bizarre pause in Dolphins-Chiefs

You could see the cold of the Kansas City Chiefs-Miami Dolphins wild-card game in the snow on the ground, in the bundled-up crowd of Arrowhead Stadium and in Andy Reid's icicle mustache.

The most "this game is incomprehensibly cold" moment might have come in the third quarter, however, when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran upfield for a run, was met by Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott and had a shard of his helmet knocked off.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 13: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs heads to the sideline after his helmet was cracked during the third quarter in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs against the Miami Dolphins at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 13, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

While the Chiefs went on to comfortably win 26-7, it was still a strange moment.

It appeared the helmet was so cold that the plastic legitimately cracked and left a clear hole to the left of Mahomes' forehead. This is stuff you just don't see in a normal game:

The officials seemed unsure how to proceed once they saw Mahomes' equipment issue. They briefly paused play, without charging a timeout, for Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to run out a backup helmet.

The Chiefs came up short on the ensuing first-and-goal, eventually kicking a 21-yard field goal to go up 19-7. Mahomes didn't miss a play, though it took him a while to get the back-up helmet properly sized.

Peacock's Kaylee Hartung later reported the Chiefs attempted to vulture the padding, then the facemask from Mahomes' cracked helmet to make his new one more comfortable, but ran out of time before Mahomes had to take the field again.

After the game, Mahomes said the issue with his back-up helmet was that the cold had made the padding inside frozen.

"We have to talk about where we store the backup helmet because it was frozen. I couldn't get it on. We were able to warm it up a little," Mahomes said, via ESPN's Jeff Darlington.

The helmet fracture might not have been solely attributable to the cold, though. As The Athletic's Tashan Reed laid out before the season, the helmet Mahomes was wearing was a "soft-shell" VICIS helmet that contains "local deformation," essentially a crumple zone to absorb impact that would have usually moved the entire helmet.