Santos: ‘Visual glitch' caused missed PAT, has fix in mind


In a matter of weeks Cairo Santos went from arguably the Bears’ most reliable player, to an unexpected liability. After setting a Bears record for most consecutive kicks made in 2021, then winning an NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award this October, Santos has suddenly missed three extra-point attempts in the past month. The latest was a kick that simply sailed wide on Sunday.

Fortunately for the Bears, Santos believes he knows what’s going wrong on his PATs and is confident he’s got a simple fix in place to get back on track.

“I feel like there’s a glitch with my visuals from the right hash for the extra point,” Santos said. “To be honest I’m not missing any kicks at practice, so technique, I don’t feel like it’s that.”

Typically Santos kicks his extra points from the right hash and tries to curl the ball in through the center of the uprights. That hadn’t been working lately, however. Santos felt he was striking the ball well, but his balls were getting off line at some point. So he looked for a change of scenery. Santos came but during halftime and kicked around 10 practice PATs, swapping between the left hash and the middle. Ultimately Santos decided to kick from the middle for the rest of the game. He was pleased with the result and made both of his extra points in the second half.

Santos said it felt weird that something he’s relied on ever since the NFL moved PATs back to 33-yard kicks, especially since that operation feels like “clockwork” to him. He suspects that routine feeling may have been part of the problem, though, and is now trying to approach extra points like field goals.

“It’s a new kick every time,” Santos said. “You approach, it’s a new yard line every time so I lock into my visuals when I’m lining up, aiming, visualizing ball flight and that stuff. On point afters it’s so clockwork when I go from the right hash.

“I think a change of scenery keeps things fresh and I’m more locked in that way. Because field goals it seems like I’m doing a better job than the extra points.”

Both Santos and Matt Eberflus made it sound like the decision not to kick a 49-yard field goal with just under three minutes to go in the first half wasn’t affected by his earlier miss, either. That decision came during pregame warmups when Santos and coaches got together to assess the conditions and hone in on his range for the day.

“We didn’t feel like above 45 (yards) was a kick that was good to risk field position,” Santos said. “It was just out of the range.

“A kick at the end of the half or the end of the game, I think I could’ve gotten it from 49, but like I said, not the one to give up field position.”

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