KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It was so cold that Patrick Mahomes’ helmet shattered on a hit. Andy Reid’s mustache froze on the sideline. Fans and players alike huddled for warmth, trying their best to grit their way through the fourth-coldest game in NFL history.
The Kansas City Chiefs managed to handle the adversity well.
Handled the Miami Dolphins quite well, too.
Mahomes threw for 262 yards, found Rashee Rice eight times for 130 yards and a touchdown, and made several daring runs for key first downs. Isiah Pacheco pounded over the frozen turf for 89 yards and another score. And the Chiefs shut down a prolific Miami offense in a 26-9 victory in the wild-card round of the playoffs Saturday night.
Harrison Butker added four field goals for the reigning Super Bowl champs, who appear to be warming up for another run.
“Guys came with that attitude, that mentality — we knew it was going to be cold,” Mahomes said. “All week we were preaching, ‘Let’s come in there with that fire and just get after it and see what happens.’”
Meanwhile, the injury-depleted Dolphins (11-7) looked nothing like the dynamic offense that led the league in yards. Tua Tagovailoa was pressured relentlessly by the NFL’s second-ranked defense, wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a 53-yard TD catch but was otherwise shut down in his return to Kansas City, and the Dolphins finished with 264 yards in all.
They have not won at Arrowhead Stadium since Nov. 6, 2011, nor won a playoff game since Dec. 30, 2000.
“All the weather,” Reid said, “it’s a little bit different than down in Miami.”
The Chiefs won their 15th consecutive home playoff game, not counting a trio of Super Bowls that netted them two Lombardi Trophies. But they will head to Buffalo next week if the Bills beat the Steelers on Monday in a game pushed back a day by a blizzard. Otherwise, the Chiefs will host Houston, which beat the Browns earlier Saturday.
It was minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-20 Celsius) at kickoff, easily setting a record for the coldest game at Arrowhead Stadium. But it was wind gusts, whipping through at more than 25 mph and driving the wind chill to a bone-rattling minus-27 degrees, that made the weather truly miserable for just about everyone.
Most fans huddled outside in parkas, ski goggles and snow pants, and players huddled around heaters on the sidelines as if they were an oasis in the cold. The National Weather Service issued a warning for what it called “dangerously cold” weather that had blanketed the Midwest.
In fact, the cold may have made Mahomes’ helmet brittle enough that a hit in the third quarter knocked a chunk of the plastic shell from it. Once officials saw the fist-sized hole, they made Mahomes get a backup helmet from the bench.
“We have to talk about where we store the backup,” Mahomes said. “It was like, frozen.”
The weather didn’t seem to bother Hill, who was playing in Kansas City for the first time since his old team traded him to Miami two years ago. The league’s leading receiver warmed up in a short-sleeved shirt, then proceeded to scorch the stout Chiefs defense and All-Pro cornerback Trent McDuffie for a his long touchdown reception midway through the first half.
But the Dolphins’ offense otherwise struggled, just as it did in a 21-14 loss to the Chiefs in their November game in Germany.
Kansas City was far more efficient, scoring on four of its six first-half drives. Mahomes capped the first with a TD toss to Rice, and while ensuing drives kept fizzling in the red zone, Butker added a trio of field goals to give Kansas City a 16-3 lead.
“That was like kicking a block of ice,” Reid said.
The Chiefs added another field goal in the third quarter, but it was still a two-possession game early in the fourth when the Dolphins appeared to force another field goal. But a late flag on Christian Wilkins for roughing the passer on third down gave Kansas City a fresh set of downs, and Pacheco plowed into the end zone moments later to give the Chiefs a 26-7 lead.
The Dolphins finally put together a sustained drive afterward, but by that point it was much too late. And when they failed to convert on fourth down, they were headed to their 11th straight loss when the game-time temp is 40 degrees or less.
Far less, in this case.
The coldest game in league history remains minus-13 for the 1967 NFL championship, when the Packers beat the Cowboys at Lambeau Field in a game that came to be known as the Ice Bowl. The wind chill that day was minus-48 degrees.