KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs sent their kicker out for the most important field goal attempt of his young career and were confident, considering the circumstances. That's because that kicker, rookie Harrison Butker, projects an air of self-belief no matter the situation.
"I was confident because he was confident," coach Andy Reid said of Butker, who hit the game-winning field goal from 43 yards out with four seconds left on Monday night in his NFL debut. "He kind of gives you that feeling that everything is going to be OK."
The Chiefs tacked on a touchdown when Justin Houston returned a fumble on the remaining play from scrimmage to take a 29-20 win against the Washington Redskins and raise their record to 4-0.
But the winning points went to Butker, who joined the Chiefs only last week as an injury replacement for Cairo Santos. He had been on the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers as recently as a week before his NFL debut. He was looking forward to having the players' normal day off last Tuesday, but his phone rang, and his plans changed.
It was his agent telling him to get on the plane to Kansas City.
He had a few days to work with holder Dustin Colquitt and snapper James Winchester and introduce himself to his new teammates, though all of the introductions weren't finished before Monday's game.
"It was awesome," Butker said. "What a way to start -- Monday Night Football."
He missed his first field goal try, from 46 yards near the end of the first half. But he got three more chances and made them all, from 26, 32 and then 43 yards.
"After I missed that first kick, I was kind of dwelling on it a little too long, but once it goes off your foot, you've got to forget about it," he said. "I knew I was going to get another opportunity. I wouldn't say I was nervous. I would say excited. It was a fun environment to play in.
"I didn't have butterflies. I felt confident ... I felt pretty calm. I hit the ball well."
As a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Butker made a 24-yard field goal to win a game against Virginia Tech as time expired. Later that season, he hit a 53-yard kick to send a game against Georgia into overtime.
But he has nothing to match what he did Monday night. He made the final kick twice, the first time moments after Washington called timeout to try to disrupt his timing.
No matter. Butker came through in the clutch for a second time, and in doing so, he made the Chiefs look good for summoning him as the replacement for Santos.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders," Winchester said. "He'll keep this up. He's got the focus and the ability to get the job done. We trust him, and he trusts us."