KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs rookie Cairo Santos’ area of expertise is kicking field goals.
But tackling? Not so much.
New York Jets returner Percy Harvin fielded a Santos kickoff late in the second quarter and burst through the first wave of defenders before finding himself in the open field.
All he needed to do was get by Santos for a potential touchdown, but Santos stuck out his foot and tripped Harvin on a play that immediately drew a 10-yard penalty.
“Percy Harvin is such a dangerous returner,” Santos explained, “and he kind of came out of the tackle so fast that I felt like I couldn’t reach him with my hands and I tried to trip him.”
While Santos won’t win any tackling awards, the most important thing is the rookie kicker knows tripping is wrong.
He also said the act was not malicious.
“I had no intent on hurting him,” Santos said. “I know it’s not the right thing to do.”
For his part, Harvin indicated to Jets reporters after the game he wouldn’t go so far as to call out Santos for a cheap act.
“I wouldn’t say it was dirty,” Harvin said. “I guess he was doing the best he could. But he clearly stuck his foot out.”
Santos’ reflex to stick out his foot likely saved a touchdown, as the Chiefs (5-3) went on to defeat the Jets (1-8) 24-10.
But the play could be attributed to another sport Santos grew up playing in his native Brazil when considering the tripping play looked like a soccer tackle.
“Maybe that was my instincts,” he said. “I just didn’t feel like reaching with my hands and I tried to at least prevent him from scoring a touchdown. I just got to keep working on tackling.”
The rookie kicker better work on improving that area because he said teammates have already ribbed him for his poor tackling form.
Santos said the teasing will likely ramp up during film sessions in the coming week as the Chiefs prepare to face the Buffalo Bills in Week 10.
But the kidding aside, he stressed an understanding of the rules.
“I’m sure we’ll have fun with it,” Santos said. “But at the end of the day, I can’t do that. I’m just trying to prevent a touchdown, but I can’t do things like that.”