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Giants Now: Xavier McKinney lauded; PFF takeaways


Xavier McKinney praised for dominant outing vs. Raiders

Following an unusual week leading up to Sunday's game, Xavier McKinney put together the best outing of his young NFL career against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9.

The second-year safety made the play of the game when he intercepted a pass from Derek Carr and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. McKinney would go on to register a second interception of Carr later in the game, finishing with the two picks and seven tackles (four solo). This came after a week in which McKinney was unable to practice until Friday due to his temporary placement on the COVID list following the series of false positive tests the team received.

The 22-year-old is being praised by several media outlets for his standout performance against the Raiders. Pro Football Focus handed McKinney a 94.5 overall grade, the highest grade of any defender in the NFL in Week 9, including a 92.7 coverage grade and 88.3 tackling grade. McKinney was named to PFF's Team of the Week.

The Giants' young safety now ranks within the top 18 among all safeties in overall grade (72.6), run defense grade (74.4) and coverage grade (70.8). He has played at least 95 percent of the team's defensive snaps in eight of nine games this season, and has not missed a single defensive snap in the last six games.

NBC Sports' Peter King also named McKinney one of the defensive players of the week in his weekly 'Football Morning in America' column.

"He picked a good time for his best game in pro football," King writes. "The second-year man out of Alabama gave the Giants a 17-13 lead with a 41-yard pick-six off Derek Carr early in the third quarter. Then, with five minutes to go, he waited, waited, waited for the right time to break on a Carr throw that was shy of Zay Jones at midfield. Once the ball was in the air, McKinney grabbed it and spoiled a second Raider rally of the half. McKinney's pretty smart for a second-year player. No coincidence he played alongside Pat Surtain and Trevon Diggs at Alabama—and under Nick Saban."

"I think he's a smart player," Daniel Jones said about McKinney after the game. "I think he understands what quarterbacks are doing. It was good reading eyes, good reading in his coverage and he makes a lot of plays back there. He's obviously got tremendous physical skills and he's a smart player. Played big time today, for sure."

McKinney now has five interceptions through his first 15 career games, becoming the first Giants player to accomplish this feat since Will Allen back in 2001. In fact, McKinney, Allen, Mike Dennis and Terry Jackson are the only four players to every record five interceptions in their first 15 games in franchise history.

"Hopefully Giants coach Joe Judge gave the game ball to Xavier McKinney, because the New York safety almost single-handedly won this game for his team," wrote CBS Sports' John Breech. "Not only did McKinney come up with a 41-yard pick-six in the third quarter, but he added another key interception in the fourth quarter that set the Giants up with the ball at midfield."

The former Alabama safety now has two multi-interception games this season, as he picked off Rams QBs Matthew Stafford and John Wooford once apiece during the Week 6 meeting. On the season, McKinney has registered 46 tackles (30 solo), and seven pass breakups to go with his four interceptions. The four picks are tied for the fourth-most in the NFL.

"I think he's just picking up the game of football at a high rate," James Bradberry told the media after the win. "When he first got here, of course we're all new, we're all rookies, you don't know what all the league is about. Coming in, he's learning a lot and he's executing when he gets out there. Like I said, he saved me today. He's being aggressive, making plays for us and I'm thankful to have him."

View the top photos of safety Xavier McKinney's time with the Giants.

Pro Football Focus takeaways from Week 9 win

McKinney led the way for the Giants on Sunday with his standout performance which earned him a 94.5 overall grade from PFF, but he was far from the only player who stood out.

Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was second on the team with his elite 88.8 overall grade, the highest mark the third-year defensive lineman has received this season, and finished with six tackles (two solo) and a quarterback hit. Lawrence now has a 74.8 pass rush grade on the season, good for the 12th-highest mark among all interior defensive linemen. His 85.5 run defense grade was the highest on the team Sunday.

Rookie linebacker Quincy Roche was another Giant who put up an impressive performance. Roche played a season-high 72 percent of the team's defensive snaps against the Raiders and picked up four tackles (two solo), two quarterback hits and a late-game strip-sack that clinched the victory for Big Blue. Roche earned a 75.0 overall grade from PFF, including a 77.4 pass rush grade, the sixth-highest pass rushing grade among all edge rushers in Week 9.

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams had yet another strong outing with five tackles (two solo), a pass breakup and six total pressures for a 73.3 overall grade. Williams' 78.3 overall grade on the season ranks 10th among interior defensive linemen, while his 82.8 run defense grade comes in at No. 6.

On the offensive side of the ball, veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph led the way with an 81.0 overall grade. Rudolph had a team-high five targets, four of which he caught for 20 yards. The veteran tight end also made an impact in the run game, earning a 76.1 run block grade.

The Giants had their most efficient day running the ball all season, picking up 149 yards on 31 rush attempts (4.8 avg.), led by Devontae Booker's 99 yards on 21 carries (4.7 avg.). Booker earned a 68.4 overall grade for his outing, while tackles Matt Peart (81.0 run block grade) and Nate Solder (83.7 run block grade) both graded out very well in the run game. Korey Cunningham played 13 snaps on offense as a jumbo tight end and earned a 72.0 pass block grade.

📸 EVERY photo from Giants' victory over the Raiders in Week 9

Check out the gallery below to view EVERY photo from the Giants' 23-16 Week 9 victory over the Raiders, from arrivals a few hours before kickoff to the postgame locker room celebration.

View photos from the New York Giants' Week 9 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.