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Xavier McKinney named NFC Def. Player of the Week


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Make that three victories and three player of the week awards for the Giants in 2021.

The streak continued today when the NFL announced that second-year safety Xavier McKinney is the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his influential performance in the Giants' 23-16 victory Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

He joins quarterback Daniel Jones, who was honored after throwing for 402 yards in a victory in New Orleans, and kicker Graham Gano, cited after a three-field goal performance in a triumph against Carolina.

McKinney intercepted two passes – and scored on one – in the second half of the Giants' win on Sunday. 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.

The lead was 20-16 when McKinney intercepted a Carr pass with 5:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, a takeaway that led to Gano's 38-yarder. It was McKinney's team-high fourth interception, one more than James Bradberry. McKinney's four interceptions place him in a tie for fourth in the NFL.

McKinney also intercepted two passes against the Rams on Oct. 17. He is the first Giants player with a pair of two-interception games in a single season since Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2016. McKinney and New England's J.C. Jackson are the only players this season with multiple interceptions in multiple games.

View photos of safety Xavier McKinney in action.

McKinney is the first Giant since Alec Ogletree in 2018 to intercept two passes and return one for a touchdown.

McKinney has five interceptions in his first 15 career games, the first Giants defender to accomplish that since cornerback Will Allen in 2001-02.

In addition to his ball-stealing exploits, McKinney was one of four Giants to play all 69 defensive snaps Sunday, and he tallied seven tackles (four solo). He is the only player in the NFL this season with at least seven tackles, two interceptions and one interception returned for a touchdown in a single game.

McKinney is the first Giants player selected Defensive Player of the Week since lineman Leonard Williams in Week 17 of the 2020 season. Williams also took the honor in Week 13.

The last Giants defensive back to be named player of the week was cornerback Janoris Jenkins in Week 4 of 2019 after he intercepted two passes in a victory against Washington.

Before McKinney, the last Giants safety to be cited was Landon Collins in Week 11 of the 2017 season.

McKinney joins Greg Jackson (1990), Aaron Ross (2008), and Collins (2016) as the only defensive backs in Giants history to win an NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in his first two seasons.

This is the first season since 2016 in which the Giants have had players selected offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week. That year, Odell Beckham, Jr. was honored on offense, Collins (twice), Jason Pierre-Paul and Rodgers-Cromartie on defense, and punter Brad Wing (twice) and Jenkins on special teams.

McKinney was the Giants' 2020 second-round draft choice, No. 36 overall. As a rookie, he fractured his foot in training camp and missed the season's first 10 games. McKinney played in the final six games, with starts in each of the last four.

This season, he has played in all nine games with eight starts and is fifth on the team with 46 tackles (30 solo) and second with seven passes defensed.

From Daniel Jones' one-handed catch on a trick play to Xavier McKinney's pick-six to the OT thriller in New Orleans, re-live the best moments from the first half of the season in this must-see photo gallery.