What's Been the Key to Cairo Santos' Perfect Stretch?

The third-year kicker has made his last 10 field goals

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos has made his last 10 field goal tries, including the game-winner against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday as time expired.

So what has changed over the last stretch of games to make him perfect?

"Practice, really," Santos said Thursday. "I know that I'm kicking well in practice and when it gets to games, I tell myself that it's just like practice, so it's just not adding any more pressure, having a little more fun."

Santos actually began the season 12 of 15, his misses from 49, 38 and 28 yards.

"I had a couple weeks where I was missing short field goals due to elements that I was overthinking in my head," he said, "Finally, I've had a streak of a couple good games and wins and important wins. I just want to keep that rolling and focus on the next kick."

Santos originally won the Chiefs starting job as an undrafted free agent back in 2014 training camp, beating out five-year incumbent Ryan Succop. Succop has been the Tennessee Titans' kicker ever since.

"That wasn't really expected to happen," head coach Andy Reid said this week, as he recalled the kicker battle. "We really haven't ever felt a lack of confidence towards his game. Like everybody, it's a human element. You're going to make some and miss some – that happens. I think we all expect him to get in there and do what he does."

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who has worked with his share of kickers in his career, echoed Reid.

"We've always been confident in Cairo," Toub said. "Everybody misses kicks, even [Adam] Vinatieri misses a kick every once in a while. We know what he does in practice and we know what he does in games. If he misses one, he always bounces back. We're confident in his ability."

And as they should be. As it stands now, Santos has the greatest field goal percentage in franchise history.

Santos' most two memorable kicks to date are away at San Diego as a rookie in 2014, when he hit a 48-yarder with 21 seconds left, and last week, the first "walk-off" shot of his career.

"As soon as Marcus (Peters) stole that ball and we were in field goal range, I was just happy, honestly," Santos said. "I was just like, 'I'm getting the opportunity.'"

Santos drilled the 37-yarder for the Chiefs' 20-17 victory.

"Those are a lot of fun," Santos said. "I had two of those in college and the team picking me up, and just feeling the love from the fans and the teammates and coaches. 

"Walk-offs are pretty special."

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