Bears kicker Cairo Santos was glad New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton called a timeout seconds before Santos' game-tying field goal attempt in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Santos kicked the 51-yard try anyway and made the first attempt, which didn’t count because of Payton’s timeout. The kick gave Santos a chance to test the wind. Although it was a breezy day at Soldier Field, at that moment the flags on the uprights in the north end zone fluttered only slightly.
After the practice try, Santos knew he could make the real thing – and that’s what he did. Santos’ 51-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime, where the Bears lost, 26-23.
Santos said the timeout came so late that he couldn’t have stopped himself from kicking the ball.
“I got the chance to see the first one go in pretty well,” Santos said. “I knew I could repeat it. I’m lucky I got the chance to do that. But I think it helps when a team does that. If I would call a timeout, I would call it before the kicker got a chance to kick it.”
Santos said the weather conditions were challenging Sunday. Kicking into the wind before the game, his range was only 52 or 53 yards. Earlier this season, Santos made a career-long 55-yard field goal on a sunny day in Charlotte, North Carolina, against the Carolina Panthers.
“It was kind of swirling,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of the wind Sunday. “At one point in time, I thought it was going left to right and literally 30 seconds later I said to the coaches it was going right to left. It was kind of back and forth.”
Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed what should’ve been an easy 27-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. As the game wore on, the wind died down.
“All you can do at that point is just hit a good ball and just trust that you’ve done your job,” Santos said. “If the wind takes it, yes, you’re mad that you missed a kick, but sometimes you just can’t control [it] in those situations.”
Santos will be kicking against his former team this week, the Tennessee Titans. He’ll be playing at Nissan Stadium, the sight of his disastrous final game with the Titans, when he missed all four field goal attempts and was cut the next day.
Santos called Nashville a “great place to kick” and said he’ll have some family in the stands Sunday.
Santos has made 10 consecutive field goal attempts and is 14-for-16 on field goals this season. On Sunday, the Bears needed two fourth-down conversions and a 15-yard gain on third-and-18 just to set up the game-tying field goal for Santos.