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Bears K Cairo Santos nails game-winner, 1 year after career low

Santos made a 38-yard field goal into the north end zone to give the Bears a 20-19 lead against the Buccaneers with 1:13 to play. About nine minutes earlier, he made one from 47 yards.

Bears kicker Cairo Santos makes a fourth-quarter field goal Thursday.
Bears kicker Cairo Santos makes a fourth-quarter field goal Thursday.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before Cairo Santos made the game-winner Thursday night, he made one from 10 yards farther out in the fourth quarter. And that made all the difference.

“It happened in the fourth quarter in the same direction, same wind,” Santos said. “I kicked most of the night in that direction, which helps — because I didn’t have to do back and just rely on my pregame warmup.”

Santos made a 38-yard field goal into the north end zone to give the Bears a 20-19 lead against the Buccaneers with 1:13 to play. About nine minutes earlier, he made one from 47 yards.

“It’s amazing,” he said after beating the Buccaneers, who cut him last preseason. “Sometimes it just shocks me the way careers and stories happen. I got released last year [by the Titans] the fifth game of the season on a bad game and here we are with a chance to play against my former team.

“As an athlete, you always want to have that. I used to watch soccer players have big games against their former teams. There is something special about it.”

A year ago Tuesday, he was cut for missing four field goals. Thursday night, he was the toast of a national broadcast.

“I really wanted the opportunity,” Santos said. “I felt like I was due to have something like that. I just wanted to have a streak of games and of makes to get it going, and I knew I couldn’t kind of take off from there.”

Santos might have secured his spot as the Bears’ kicker. Eddy Pineiro is still nursing a groin injury and hasn’t practiced with the team since early during preseason camp.

“For him to make a 47-yard field goal, which was big,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “And then that 37-yard field goal game winner, I think that just speaks to him as a person.”