Vahe Gregorian

No coincidence Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen was in right place at right time

Daniel Sorensen's son slept through his dad's first pick-six

Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen scored the first pick six of his career against the Saints on Sunday, but his son slept through the play.
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Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen scored the first pick six of his career against the Saints on Sunday, but his son slept through the play.

When the Chiefs locker room opened after their 27-21 victory over the Saints on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, safety Daniel Sorensen immediately walked out to the nearby family reception room.

That’s typical enough …

Except that Sorensen remained in full regalia and even put his helmet back on as he sought out his 16-month-old son, Brooks, who turned giddy at the sight.

“My little boy loves football players,” Sorensen said, “so we let him see dad in his uniform.”

With his wife, Whitney, nearby, Sorensen and Brooks went out to the field where his father had just had the game of his NFL life — highlighted by a pick-six at a pivotal point in the game that provided a snapshot of who Sorensen is.

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Never mind that Brooks hadn’t quite absorbed it since, well, he slept through most of the game. And so what if he was more interested in being chased than having the play broken down?

Had he inquired, Sorensen said, smiling, “I would have told him, ‘Dad tried to run as fast as he could; all those big guys were after him.’ ”

There was, naturally, a lot more to the interception off future NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees and serpentine 48-yard return that changed the complexion of the contest by giving the Chiefs a 14-7 lead after Brees had dissected them on the Saints’ first drive.

Afterward, Brees would call it a “swing that determine(d) the game” and lamented not putting the ball precisely where it needed to be for Willie Snead IV.

Meanwhile, safety Eric Berry jarred the ball loose as he went for the interception — something he came close enough to snagging himself that cornerback Marcus Peters teased Berry alongside by saying he should have picked it.

“But ain’t nothing wrong with a little alley-oop,” Peters said.

Quirky as the play was — tipped what appeared to be a few times and, as Brees saw it, glancing off Snead’s helmet along the way — the signature of it was this:

“It’s up in the air,” Brees said, “ … and it gives time for another guy to come over that’s in the right place at the right time.”

Just why Sorensen was in the right place at the right time and was so ready to seize the moment with the ball is another matter, with answers great and small.

Sorensen is the youngest of six children in a family of five boys, each of whom played college football and he considered more talented than him. Brother Brad, a quarterback, was drafted by the Chargers and most recently was with the Vikings until being released in September.

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Sorensen has said in the past that helps explain the motor that makes him one of those “worker bee guys,” as coach Andy Reid calls him.

A good example of that drive can be derived from his first scrimmage at Brigham Young, in which he broke his helmet … and continued playing in the shell of itself.

As he stood in his Chiefs uniform nearly an hour after the game in a mostly empty locker room, Sorensen smiled at the thought of the bent face mask and helmet that “kind of was a little lopsided” and obstructed his vision as coaches told him, “Don’t worry about it, just stay in there.”

“In everything I do,” he said, “I try to give everything I’ve got.”

That’s been evident in Sorensen, who has distinguished himself on special teams and become increasingly prominent on defense since being signed in 2014.

The passion was one of the early signals to Reid that he’d be his kind of guy.

Another was this:

“Well, the earliest sign was that he was from BYU,” said a smiling Reid, himself a BYU graduate.

That may have been more true than Reid realized, actually.

After his freshman year, Sorensen went on a two-year Mormon mission to Costa Rica.

He grew up in ways he couldn’t have otherwise, both through the work itself and what he went without.

“No cell phone, emailed (family) once a week, no Facebook, no Twitter, no girlfriend,” he said, smiling, as he considered the circumstances in which he lost 40 pounds down to 189. “Didn’t have bikes. No cars. We walked everywhere. Ate beans and rice all day. …

“Spiritually, you’re able to mature. You’ve got to cook for yourself. Clean for yourself. You work all day every day.

“So I learned a hard work ethic, I learned to trust in God and … learned the value of putting things in perspective.”

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Perhaps counterintuitively, without all of which he doesn’t believe he’d be where he is now.

In the right place at the right time.

“I was just moving that way when the ball was thrown,” he said. “ … And it really fell right in my lap.”

Then it was “all about the finish,” as Peters put it.

“He looked like he was a running back out there (the way) he was weaving his way,” he said.

As he zoomed along, the play illuminated an underrated attribute of Sorensen’s.

“We actually had a talk about that this week, on how fast he is,” Berry said. “And he’s a heck of an athlete as well. Because we ask him to do a lot of things, and he does it (all) very well.

“So it’s just all about finding that rhythm. And I think he’s getting in that rhythm.”

On a day Sorensen celebrated with his son.

But will have to tell him about another time.

“This will be a game,” he said, “to definitely remember.”

Vahe Gregorian: 816-234-4868, @vgregorian