While it wasn't optimal for VICIS to watch its ZERO2 helmet crack when a defender made helmet-to-helmet contact with Patrick Mahomes, the company said its product did its job.
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback caused a small break in the game during the third quarter after a shard of his helmet fell off. He dashed through Miami Dolphins defenders as he made his way into the red zone, until he was greeted by Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott.
In minus-4-degree weather, the impact helped cause the "soft-shell" helmet to not only crack but also lose a piece from the left front panel.
In the middle of a wild-card playoff game between the second-seeded Chiefs and seventh-seeded Dolphins, this wasn't the kind of exposure VICIS was looking for. But Mahomes not missing a single snap after the incident did show that he was ultimately no worse for wear after the collision.
"While outer shell damage is not ideal, the ZERO2 helmet did its job of protecting Patrick Mahomes during a head-to-head impact during unprecedented cold temperatures," VICIS said in a statement on X. "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.
"Extreme conditions like those experienced in Saturday evening's NFL playoff game are bound to test the limits of even the highest-performing products."
Mahomes was less critical of the fact that the helmet cracked than the process it took for him to make the backup helmet comfortable in a reasonable time.
In addition to trying to take parts of his old helmet off to make the new one work better, Mahomes said after the game that the secondary helmet was cold when it was given to him. This made the process of getting back into the game much slower than necessary, he said.
"I'm sure it had to do with it being really cold," Mahomes said. "I didn't know what happened in the moment, but I got in the huddle and everybody was telling me. ... It was a first for me.
"We have to talk about where we store the backup because it was frozen, so when I tried to put it on ... I couldn't get it on. It didn't look great. We were able to adjust it on the sideline, get it kind of warmed up a bit and get rolling from there."