Rookie kicker Cairo Santos has supplied just about all of the Chiefs’ scoring during the last two weeks.
Santos, with four field goals and an extra point in the Chiefs’ 19-7 win over San Diego on Sunday and four field goals in last week’s 20-12 loss at Pittsburgh, accounted for 25 of the Chiefs’ last 31 points.
In the process, Santos, the first native Brazilian known to play in the NFL, etched his name in the Chiefs’ record book — thanks, in part to Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud.
Santos finished the season with 113 points (25 of 30 field goals, 38 of 38 extra points), the most by a rookie kicker in franchise history, surpassing the previous record 108 by Stenerud in a 14-game season in 1967.
And Santos’ 25 field goals tied the rookie record set in 2009 by Ryan Succop, the kicker he beat out for the job during training camp this year.
After Santos got off to a shaky start, missing two of his first four field-goal attempts in the first two games of the season, the coaches asked Stenerud to come to the Chiefs facility and meet with him.
“He helped me out a lot, just learning and hearing from him that I’m a good kicker, that just lifted me and my confidence,” Santos said, “just my belief in myself. It’s a huge honor just to be in the same category with him.”
Santos, a rookie free agent from Tulane and winner of the Lou Groza Award in 2012, made 14 consecutive field goals at one point, including a game-winning, 48-yarder at San Diego in week six.
That was the kick that turned the season around for Santos.
“The San Diego game was when I realized this is a job that can be lost very easily if you don’t perform,” Santos said. “It was realizing I don’t want anybody taking my job and just going out there with confidence and kicking.”
Santos made field goals from 43, 21, 27 and 31 yards on Sunday, but he was wide left on a 50-yarder.
“I guarantee you if I kicked it again, I would make it,” Santos said. “It’s just one of those kicks where I maybe respected the wind too much instead of just hitting a true ball. I’ll learn from that and get better.”
Santos, who made a season-long 53-yarder against St. Louis, his only other 50-plus attempt this season, was satisfied with his rookie season.
“I think I’ve done good things and some things I need to learn from my first year,” Santos said. “I look at every kick and every field goal and write down the things I can learn from. Overall, I’m glad I finished my first year and have things to work on.
“It wasn’t a perfect season for me, and I was able to achieve a few records … and I want to be there for my team when they need points.”