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Giants Now: Xavier McKinney shines in divisional win


Xavier McKinney shines in divisional win; PFF takeaways from Week 12

The Giants put up a strong defensive effort in their Week 12 win over the Eagles. After averaging 34.5 points over their last four games, Philadelphia was held to just seven points by the Big Blue defense on Sunday.

The defense saw several young players step up in the win, but none more so than second-year safety Xavier McKinney.

McKinney led the team with eight tackles (four solo), two pass breakups and his team-leading fifth interception of the season.

The young safety played all 67 defensive snaps against the Eagles and earned an elite 92.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus for his performance. It was the fifth-highest grade among all players in Week 12. McKinney raised his overall grade to 76.7 on the year, good for the 12th-best mark among all safeties.

McKinney's performance against Philadelphia earned him a spot on PFF's Week 12 Team of the Week. His 78.3 coverage grade on the season comes in at No. 10 among the league's safeties.

McKinney wasn't the only young defender to play well in the NFC East matchup. Rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson, in his fourth NFL game, played on a season-high 45 defensive snaps (67 percent). He gave up just one catch on six targets, good for a 40.3 passer rating when thrown at. He ranked second on the defense with his 67.0 overall grade after totaling six tackles (four solo), two pass breakups and one quarterback hit.

Safety Julian Love also played all 67 defensive snaps and finished third on the defense with a 66.7 overall grade. Love made an impact all over the defense on Sunday, finishing with six tackles (two solo), 0.5 sacks, one pass breakup, one quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.

Other notable marks on the defensive side of the ball include defensive back Steven Parker, in his NFL debut, earning a solid 62.4 overall grade after registering three tackles (one solo) and one pass breakup. Cornerback James Bradberry did a great job of limiting Eagles No. 1 receiver DeVonta Smith and the other Eagles receivers, as the veteran corner allowed just one reception on two targets, good for a 64.6 passer rating.

On the other side of the ball, tight end Chris Myarick had a memorable game. Myarick caught the first reception of his career on an impressive catch in the end zone for a touchdown. He added another catch for 10 yards and finished with an elite 89.6 overall grade on 24 total snaps.

Wide receiver John Ross finished second on the offense with a strong 83.0 overall grade. Ross caught both of his targets for 28 yards, playing 11 total snaps.

Left tackle Andrew Thomas and center Billy Price played every offensive snap on Sunday and both linemen graded out well. Thomas earned a 71.5 overall grade, the third-highest on the offense, while Price received a 67.8 overall grade. The offensive line as a unit surrendered just one sack of quarterback Daniel Jones.

Speaking of Jones, the third-year quarterback performed well when pressured in this contest, completing seven of nine passes under pressure. Jones threw for 202 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, adding another 30 yards on the ground. He earned a solid 66.2 overall grade.

Inside the Numbers: Xavier McKinney leads defensive surge

Last Friday, four days after the Giants gave up 402 and 30 points in a loss at Tampa Bay, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham held his weekly question and answer session with reporters.

"Obviously, last week we didn't do a good enough job," Graham said. "So, hopefully, this week we do a better job and compete and go out there and give us a chance to win."

The defense did exactly that in a 13-7 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. The final score is indicative of the unit's dominance. It forced four turnovers – three interceptions and one fumble – and twice stopped Philadelphia on fourth down.

Although the Eagles ran for 208 yards, quarterback Jalen Hurts completed only 14 of 31 passes, a 45.2 percentage that was the lowest by a starting quarterback against the Giants since Washington's Mark Sanchez connected on just 42.9% of his passes (6-for-14) on Dec. 9, 2018. Sanchez was replaced in the second half of that 40-16 Giants victory by Josh Johnson.

The victory Sunday was part of a recent and significant improvement in the defense's performance, the major reason the Giants have won three of their last five games following a 1-5 start. Beginning with a 25-3 victory against Carolina on Oct. 24, the defense has advanced in every significant statistical category. Most importantly, the Giants have cut their points allowed per game almost in half.

When the streak began, the defense was allowing an NFL-high 72.9 completion percentage by opposing quarterbacks. Since then, the Panthers and Eagles were both under 50%, and standouts Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady threw a combined 35 incompletions against the Giants.

Perhaps no one personifies the defensive progress more than second-year safety Xavier McKinney, who has played every snap in each of the last eight games. He has also stepped in as a leader in the secondary after the loss of captains Jarill Peppers with a ruptured ACL and Logan Ryan the last two weeks to COVID-19.

In the Giants' four November games, McKinney recorded 29 tackles (16 solo), four passes defensed and three interceptions, including one he returned 41 yards for a touchdown in a 23-16 victory against Las Vegas. McKinney intercepted two passes in that game; he also had two picks vs. the Rams on Oct. 17. McKinney's two interceptions vs. the Raiders earned him the Week 9 NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He picked off Derek Carr's sideline pass intended for Hunter Renfrow and sprinted 41 yards down the sideline with just 1:32 elapsed in the third quarter. It was the first touchdown of McKinney's career and the Giants' first defensive touchdown of the season, and it gave the Giants a lead they never relinquished at 17-13.

View photos of safety Xavier McKinney in action.

📸 EVERY photo from Giants' victory over rival Eagles at home

From arrivals at MetLife Stadium, to Michael Strahan's jersey retirement ceremony, to postgame locker room celebrations, check out the gallery below to view EVERY photo from the Giants' big Week 12 divisional win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

View all the action from the Giants' Week 12 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.