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Behind the Lens: A Look Back at the Top Photos from the 2023 Season – No. 5

Looking back at the best photos from the Chiefs’ archives in 2023

A photograph can be powerful. It possesses the ability to capture the raw emotion of a singular moment and preserve an otherwise fleeting snippet of time, telling a story in the process.

Over the next several weeks, we're taking a look back at 10 of the best photos from the 2023-24 season along with commentary from Chiefs' Director of Photography Steve Sanders. Unlike in previous years, this isn't a countdown of Sanders' top images, but rather the chronological story of the Chiefs' championship season told through some of his favorite photos.

Here's a look at what we've covered so far:

We'll continue with No. 5:

"The Helmet"


Game: Wild Card Round vs. the Miami Dolphins

The Subject: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes loses a piece of his helmet during a collision with a Dolphins' defender during a Chiefs' postseason victory.

Taken By: Mikayla Schmidt

Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Focal Length: 84 mm

Exposure Time: 1/1,250

Aperture: f/4

Steve Sanders' Thoughts:

Q: Why did you want to include this photo in our collection?

Sanders: "This was such a unique moment. In all my years of taking pictures of football games, I've never seen a helmet break like this," Sanders said. "It had a lot to do with the impact of the hit, but also the historically cold weather that night. So, for Mikayla to capture this picture at the split second that the helmet piece was flying off was tremendous. You can almost hear the hit by looking at the picture. You're hearing the impact of those helmets and the pads. The other thing is Patrick is such a tough individual that you knew he was just going to bounce off that and be like, 'Alright, come on, hit me again.'"

Q: This was obviously one of those all-time moments that everyone remembers. Considering that Mikayla was an intern when she captured this, how exciting is it for you as a teacher when one of your students takes a photo like this?

Sanders: "Mentoring young photographers is one thing that I'm really passionate about. We've had a great history over the last 10 years here in Kansas City with many of our interns moving on to full-time positions in the NFL and in college football," Sanders said. "As for this photo specifically, we captured this moment from three different directions, but this was far and away the best one. What's funny is that I had a straight-on angle of it, but when I went to take the picture, my side camera was frozen solid. It wouldn't even work. So, I'm glad her camera was still working and that she was able to take this amazing picture."