EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said on Friday that Washington Redskins tackle Chris Samuels made a dirty play when he fell on the back of his ankle after being beaten on a pass rush on the final play of the NFL season opener.
Kiwanuka hurt his left ankle on the play. X-rays were negative, but the ankle was still sore on Friday, and so was Kiwanuka.
Replays showed that Kiwanuka beat Samuel to the outside on a pass rush and started moving toward Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell in the waning seconds of the Giants' 16-7 victory.
Samuels quickly turned and made a low lunging tackle, wrapping his arms around Kiwanuka's legs. His upper torso pinned Kiwanuka's left ankle.
"Honestly, I thought it was a dirty play," Kiwanuka said. "There's no question about it. He was definitely beat and instead of recovering or giving up, I don't know how many options you had, but I just don't think there is any place for that in the NFL."
Samuels said he wasn't trying to hurt anyone.
"On that particular play I was just trying to protect my quarterback," Samuels said through a Redskins spokesman. "It was never my intention to go out there and injure another player."
Replays also showed Samuels wave his arms in a move that suggested that he was upset after the play. He stood over Kiwanuka as Giants trainers came on the field.
"Samuels, I spoke to him right after and he said it wasn't intentional and I will just leave that at that," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Friday.
Kiwanuka was upset, especially after missing the final six games of last season with a broken lower leg that also caused ligament damage to his ankle.
"I don't think there is any place for that in professional football," he said.
Kiwanuka also wasn't buying the idea that Samuels was trying to protect his quarterback.
"That doesn't matter. Honestly, you take hits," Kiwanuka said. "I took a big hit during the game and at this level, this is something that happens. Even the greatest players get knocked down. You have to stand back up, be a man and line up for the next snap. Something like that, I would never do it, having been out for the end of last season I know how valuable these games are. I would never do it to anybody, and I wouldn't expect anyone to do it to me."
Drafted in the first round in 2006 as a defensive end, Kiwanuka has a big role this season in the wake of the season-ending knee injury to Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora. It forced Coughlin to switch him back from linebacker to end a couple of weeks ago.
Kiwanuka was worried that he was seriously injured after the play, but he knew it was not serious when he was able to put pressure on the ankle. He has not talked with Samuels. He does not believe the player targeted his left ankle, but he believes he deliberately jumped on it after being beaten.
"I don't think he thought that deep into it," Kiwanuka said. "He definitely tried to make a play intentionally that I felt was out of line."
Fellow defensive end Justin Tuck understands Samuels desire to protect his quarterback, but he did not condone the play.
"You put another players' health in the balance, that is always going to be questionable," Tuck said. "I know Chris. He is not a guy who will go out there and intentionally hurt a guy. It was just a bad judgment play."
Defensive captain Antonio Pierce said the play was not pretty.
"I don't want to label anybody, but obviously a play that should not have happened."