Plays that defined the season: Cairo Santos' winning FG in San Diego

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here is the third in a series of 10 plays that shaped the Kansas City Chiefs' 2014 season. We’re going in chronological order, not in order of importance.

The Chiefs were in San Diego on Oct. 19 to play the Chargers with their season hanging on the edge. They were 2-3 and lagging far behind the 5-1 Chargers and 4-1 Denver Broncos in the AFC West race.

The game was tied 20-20 in the final seconds after the Chiefs had moved on a frantic drive to the San Diego 30. They sent rookie kicker Cairo Santos on the field with 26 seconds remaining to try a 48-yard field goal that would give the Chiefs a lead and, most probably, a much-needed victory.

The Chiefs couldn’t have been very confident in the outcome. Santos started the season making just two of his first four field goal attempts. He had since rebounded to make five straight, including two earlier in the San Diego game.

Still, his longest successful kick to that point was 45 yards.

But Santos nailed it. The kick started right but moved back left enough to squeeze through the uprights with plenty of distance.

Two plays later, a Kurt Coleman interception sealed the 23-20 victory that would begin a five-game winning streak. That streak would put the Chiefs in a tie for first place with the Broncos.

As for Santos, he would continue to vindicate the Chiefs’ decision to keep him as the kicker to begin the season instead of the incumbent, Ryan Succop. At one point, he made 14 straight field goals and the Chiefs finished the season tied for 18th in the league with a field goal percentage of 83.3.

He would make no more clutch, game-winning kicks like the one in San Diego. But he carried the Chiefs offensively late in the season when they otherwise bogged down. He made four field goals to provide all of their points in a 20-12 loss to Pittsburgh and four again in the season’s final game to provide the margin of victory in a 19-7 win over the Chargers.