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Giants Now: Xavier McKinney stands out; PFF notes

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Xavier McKinney stands out and other PFF takeaways from Week 15 loss

The Giants lost their second consecutive game this past weekend, falling at home to the Cleveland Browns, 20-6, on Sunday Night Football.

The defense was able to hold the Browns' talented running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to a total of 22 carries for 71 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and five receptions for 23 yards. On the other side of the ball, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram each caught four passes apiece while Colt McCoy finished with 221 passing yards.

Here are Pro Football Focus takeaways from the Giants' Week 15 loss against the Browns.

* Xavier McKinney was the Giants' highest graded defensive player in Week 15 with his 70.5 overall grade. The rookie recorded four tackles (two solo) in just his fourth NFL game, and was on the field for 64 percent of the defensive snaps, easily his highest snap percentage this year. McKinney's grade was aided by a strong 78.3 tackling grade.

* McKinney has showcased his versatility over the last two weeks while seeing his playing time increase. In the last two games, McKinney's snap counts at each position are as followed: 15 at EDGE, 10 at LB, 33 at SCB, 2 at outside CB, and 20 at FS.

* Austin Johnson finished right behind McKinney with his 70.4 overall grade on 20 defensive snaps. Johnson recorded three tackles (two solo) and a tackle for loss, and his PFF grades show this. The veteran defensive tackle earned a 71.5 run defense grade and a 70.1 tackling grade.

* Jabrill Peppers had another solid outing, receiving a 69.6 overall grade, including an elite 80.0 tackling grade and 68.6 coverage grade.

* The interior defensive linemen had another good outing, with Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams leading the way this week. Tomlinson earned a 67.8 overall grade after picking up 0.5 tackles for loss. Williams was given a 67.6 overall grade from PFF, which included an impressive 84.3 run defense grade, after registering six tackles (three solo) and one tackle for loss.

* Several defenders earned strong tackling grades, including Logan Ryan (86.3), Blake Martinez (83.9), Julian Love (79.4) and Tae Crowder (77.9).

* Kaden Smith was the Giants' highest graded offensive player against the Browns after earning a dominant 86.2 overall grade on his 20 offensive snaps. Smith received an elite 83.6 run blocking grade.

* Fellow tight end Levine Toilolo was the second highest graded offensive player after getting a 77.4 overall grade on 19 offensive snaps, 11 of which were running plays. Toilolo caught one pass for 14 yards.

* Colt McCoy threw for 221 yards on his way to earning a 69.9 overall grade.

* Kevin Zeitler earned the highest pass blocking grade among the offensive linemen, earning a strong 82.1 on 35 passing plays. Nick Gates had the second highest pass blocking grade among the O-linemen with a 68.2.

James Bradberry, Evan Engram make Pro Bowl team

This unique NFL season today took another twist for James Bradberry and Evan Engram, who learned they earned their first Pro Bowl selections although the game will not actually be played.

Bradberry, the cornerback in his first year with the Giants and fifth in the NFL, and Engram, the 2017 first-round draft choice in his fourth season, would have represented the NFC team in the game. But the league announced in October that it canceled the game to focus on completing its season amid the pandemic. Las Vegas, which had been scheduled to host the game, will instead host the Pro Bowl after the 2021 season. This will be the first time since the 1949 season that the NFL hasn't held some form of postseason all-star game.

"When they announced that, I was like, 'That would be crazy if I made the Pro Bowl and we don't even play the Pro Bowl,'" Engram said. "But I think they're doing some Madden tournament. I've been playing a lot of Madden lately, so hopefully I can go win that."

No Giants player was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2019. Bradberry is the first Giants cornerback to be voted in since Janoris Jenkins in 2016, while Engram is the team's first Pro Bowl tight end since Jeremy Shockey in 2006.

"It's a surreal feeling," Bradberry said. "That's on everyone's, I wouldn't call it a bucket list, but it's on their goal list, to be Pro Bowl, to be All-Pro, just be the best in the game. I try not to think about it too much. I just try to go out there and play my best and just let the chips fall where they may."

"I'm really just truly thankful," Engram said. "Just blessed and thankful for just the whole process that I've been through. This past year has been hard for literally everybody. Me and my mom were talking about it this weekend."

The Giants devised a unique plan for informing Bradberry and Engram of their selections. They told them the NFL was scheduling Zoom calls so current players could meet former players who once played the same positions on their teams. Jason Sehorn spoke to Bradberry, while Howard Cross Zoomed with Engram. The retirees then told the active players they were Pro Bowlers.

"It was cool, because I really learned about who Jason Sehorn was when I got up here," Bradberry said. "I just started doing some research, and I saw that he was a great cornerback for the organization. It was cool to get the news from him, a fellow cornerback."

Engram didn't have to research Cross, who is a regular presence at Giants headquarters.

"My guy Howard, I see him all the time," Engram said. "I definitely was glad it was him. They made it seem like I was getting on to talk ball and chop it up with some of the former Giants. They set it up pretty good."

Closer Look: Tough run defense across the board

Despite the loss, the Giants did a great job of slowing down one of the league's top rushing attacks in Week 15.

The Browns carried the ball a total of 30 times on Sunday night, totaling 106 yards and a touchdown, good for an average of 3.5 yards per carry. Cleveland's talented RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt totaled just 71 yards on 22 carries (3.2 yards per carry) to go with five receptions for 23 yards.

Take a look at the video below to watch Super Bowl champion Shaun O'Hara take a closer look at the Giants' run defense against the Browns in Week 15.

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