KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cairo Santos kicked the Kansas City Chiefs to a winning month, connecting on 11-of-11 field goals while booting two game-winning scores as time expired, and those heroics earned him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month award for November.
“It’s awesome,” Santos said. “It makes really proud of our whole special teams unit, coach (Dave) Toub and coach (Brock) Olivo included. We work countless hours throughout the whole season to be able to come up big in wins like the way we got in the month of November.”
Santos ranks tied for third in the NFL in scoring with 96 points. He also stands tied for second with 25 field goals and seventh in field goal success rate at 89.3 percent. The third-year kicker remains on pace to establish new career-high marks in all three categories.
Toub said Santos learned from struggles earlier in his career. The kicker also had a stretch this season when he missed three field goals in eight attempts. Santos has connected on 13 straight field goal tries dating to the team’s 30-14 win over Indianapolis Oct. 30.
“He’s really come on and he’s doing well in practice,” Toub said. “We have a lot of confidence in him right now.”
The undrafted free agent from Tulane credits his success around slowing down his process and focusing on the wind, the grass, ball position and other factors.
“I created a routine that I practice every day here, and when it gets to a game it feels like practice because I’m slowing down the moment,” Santos said. “The moment’s not getting bigger for me just because it’s a game.”
Santos performed many of November’s heroics before a national television audience in his native Brazil. Not every NFL game airs in the country, but Santos said both the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos games broadcasted in Brazil.
“It’s like they’re watching Brazil the national soccer team play, and they’re rooting all together,” Santos said. “I get messages from Panthers fans and Broncos fans in Brazil that, ‘You know, if we’re going to lose from your kick, that’s OK.'”
Santos said fans back home enjoyed the game-winning kick against Denver deflecting off the left upright most of all.
“They think it’s like soccer, that when it hits the post and goes in, it was the prettiest one,” Santos joked. “They think it’s cool.”