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Cool, confident Cairo Santos riding the wave of FG streak

With a Bears franchise-record 34 consecutive field goals in the regular season, Santos isn’t feeling the pressure. “Whenever this thing ends, I’m going to try to start a new one.” 

Bears kicker Cairo Santos (2) has made 7-of-7 field goals and 9-of-9 PATs this season.
Bears kicker Cairo Santos (2) has made 7-of-7 field goals and 9-of-9 PATs this season.
Jeff Haynes/AP Photos

Any Bears fan knows that Packers Week is not the time to be talking about how great the Bears’ kicker is doing. But here goes:

• Cairo Santos has made a franchise-record 34 consecutive field goals in the regular season, including 7 of 7 this season. That’s the longest current streak in the NFL and the 10th-best streak in NFL history — 10 away from Adam Vinatieri’s NFL record of 44 consecutive field goals set in 2015-16 with the Colts.

• Santos has made 25 consecutive PATs, including 9 of 9 this season, a particularly notable accomplishment after NFL kickers missed 13 PATs last week alone.

• Santos has made 43 consecutive place-kicks (field goals and PATs) and 75 of his last 76 (98.7%). The only miss was a blocked PAT against the Lions last season. Including the postseason, Santos has made 84 of 87 kicks (96.6%) since signing with the Bears before the 2020 season — 38 of 40 field goals and 46 of 47 PATs.

• Santos has not missed a field goal in a game the Bears have lost. His last miss was a 46-yard attempt against the Falcons in Week 3 of last season — a 30-26 victory. His only other miss occurred the previous week — a 50-yard attempt against the Giants at Soldier Field. The Bears won 17-13.

Santos’ success, in a way, is a little daunting heading into a game against the Packers, especially considering Packers kicker Mason Crosby is the one who’s struggling. The 15-year veteran missed four kicks last week against the Bengals — a PAT and consecutive field-goal attempts of 36, 51 and 40 yards in the final 2:16 of regulation and overtime before he made a 49-yarder to win it. With Santos hot and Crosby not, what could go wrong?

But Santos, 29, is in such a good groove with holder Pat O’Donnell, long snapper Patrick Scales and special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor that he’s not concerned about any kind of jinx or the end of the streak. He’s on solid ground.

“It’s been a blur for a while now,” Santos said. “My mentality has been ‘copy and paste’ from week to week for a while. It’s just been fun to be a part of when things go together, just trusting the preparation and the routine from week to week.

“I try to copy and paste and not worry about the result, and things are falling as they should — because I feel good out there. We’re getting great reps with the snap, hold and kick. It’s fun when we see that on Sundays.”

There’s no real secret to Santos’ success. When it’s just the snapper, holder and kicker, the routine is pretty simple.

“It’s the process,” Tabor said Thursday. “We went through Wednesday. We have our Thursday process. And then [Friday] we kick again. Hopefully we’re set up for success on Sunday. I say this, and I’ve said it before: If you don’t honor the process, you don’t give yourself a chance on Sunday. If you do go through your process, you do give yourself a chance.”

As boring as that is, it’s nothing to be trifled with in Chicago. The tumult after Cody Parkey’s missed field goal in the playoff game against the Eagles at Soldier Field after the 2018 regular season — the “double doink” that led the Bears to Santos — is a memory that will not fade.

But the Bears’ luck has changed since the eight-kicker tryout in 2019 that failed to produce a winner. Eddy Pineiro finished strong with 11 consecutive field goals made in 2019. When he injured his groin in training camp last year, the Bears signed Santos. And the rest is history.

Santos had a streak of 26 consecutive made kicks at Tulane — four shy of the NCAA’s FBS record. That streak was snapped when a 32-yard attempt was blocked at Syracuse in 2013. He made a 56-yarder against Louisiana-Monroe the next week, then walk-off game-winners the next two weeks against North Texas (27 yards) and East Carolina (42 yards).

“It was a rough one because it was the week my dad passed away [in a stunt plane accident],” Santos said. “So I flew to Brazil for the funeral, and the team said, ‘You can stay there as long as you want or come back.’ I definitely wanted to come back. And then that game, I made a kick and then got the streak blocked there. So that was kind of a double-whammy on that week.

“But I started to hit a bunch of game-winners after that, so I kind of got another streak going and it ended up being OK. So whenever this thing ends, I’m going to try to start a new one.”