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Bears’ Cairo Santos embraces redemption in game-winner

As the Bears moved closer and closer to the end zone on the last drive of their 16-14 victory, kicker Cairo Santos found himself getting mad.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions
Bears kicker Cairo Santos and punter Pat O’Donnell congratulate each other after Thursday’s game-winning field goal.
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

DETROIT — As the Bears moved closer and closer to the end zone on the last drive of their 16-14 victory, kicker Cairo Santos found himself getting mad.

They were going to score a touchdown, he figured, and he wouldn’t get a chance to redeem himself for misses on Sunday and Thursday. He’d have to wait another 10 days for a chance to kick a meaningful field goal again.

“Which is good for the team,” he said. “But I was feeling selfish that way.”

Then, fearful the Lions would let them score a touchdown just to get the ball back, the Bears began a string of three kneel-downs, giving Santos a chance to try — and make — the walk-off winner from 28 yards.

“It’s good when it happened fast,” he said. “Rather than not get a chance in the game or wait a whole week.”

On Sunday, Santos pushed a 40-yarder left in a game the Bears lost by three. On Thursday, Santos made three kicks but, he said, “chunked” a 53-yarder, leaving the kick short in the third quarter that would have put them up by nine.

Tackle Jason Peters, the Bears’ elder statesman, approached Santos on the sideline and, the kicker said, “predicted that it was gonna come down to a kick.”

He was right.

“He was just like, ‘You’re a leader on this team, you’re a weapon and we’re gonna need you,’ ’’ Santos said.

Santos hasn’t been this inconsistent all season. He’d made 40 straight regular-season field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL, when he missed a 65-yard prayer at the end of the Steelers game. He tried to kick that ball like a kickoff to get more distance but said that didn’t affect his timing in the last two games.

“You just have it behind you,” he said. “And hope to use this as a fire to keep going.”

Roquan hurt

Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the centerpiece of the Bears’ defense, hurt his hamstring in the second quarter against the Lions and did not return.

Smith went into the injury tent during the Lions’ ill-fated drive that ended in a fourth-and-30 and soon had his helmet taken away. Christian Jones, who has had two stints with the Bears and one with the Lions, took his place.

Smith had a career-high 17 tackles Sunday against the Ravens, giving him 110 for the season. Only two players had more entering this week.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was targeted once, left the game in the second half with a foot injury.

Triple digits for Mooney

With his second 100-plus-yard receiving game in less than a week, Darnell Mooney brought his total to a team-high 694 yards.

The Bears’ next two highest pass catchers — tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Allen Robinson — have 700 combined.

Mooney said he was focused all week after what he called a disappointing Sunday. He had five catches for 121 yards against Baltimore but had 16 targets. Two of the incompletions, he said, should’ve been touchdowns.

“Anytime the ball comes to me, I feel like I should catch it,” he said.