Despite spending most of the week on the COVID-19 list where he was one of a handful of players who ended up with an initial false-positive, New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney didn't find out until Friday that he would be able to play against the Las Vegas Raiders.
He ended up having a breakout game.
McKinney made two second-half interceptions, returning one 41 yards for the Giants' first defensive touchdown of the season.
“I just tried to stay locked-in,” McKinney said during his postgame press conference, per Giants Country.
He also had seven tackles, four solo, in the 23-16 victory over the Raiders, who were playing their first game following the fatal car accident involving Henry Ruggs III.
“He pulled a Ferris Bueller this week, didn’t have to show up for work, and had a career type of game,” Giants head coach Joe Judge joked. “He did a good job staying prepared."
It showed showed on his first interception. With Derek Carr looking to his favorite third-down target — former Clemson standout Hunter Renfrow — the wide receiver ran a familiar 10-yard speed out. But the quarterback didn't lead him enough with the pass, which allowed McKinney to undercut the route, intercept the ball, and take off downfield for the score.
The key to the play was McKinney's reaction to the move by Renfrow before breaking his route to the outside. By not falling for the inside move, he was a step closer than most defenders.
“I just read the quarterback," he said. "I felt Renfrow going out and I was kinda just all eyes on the quarterback the whole time. He was looking it down, so just trust my instincts and I went, and I made the play."
As for his reaction: ‘Yeah, a touchdown,” he said. “My mentality every time I get the ball is to get yards and to try and make a play, make a touchdown for our team."
On the second pick, McKinney recalled the Raiders earlier running a double move on James Bradberry. It beat the cornerback again, but McKinney was able to race over the top and snare the ball.
“I was beat on the double move and Zay saved my life, so shout out to Zay," Bradberry said.
“I actually told Brad earlier in the game, they did the same thing and I broke on it. They actually threw a back shoulder,” McKinney recalled. “I told him, I said ‘if they do that again, I’m going to beat it and I’m going to pick it.”
It was McKinney's first game with multiple interceptions, his third and fourth of the season — to go with seven pass deflections and 46 tackles. He missed most of his rookie season in 2020 due to a fractured foot.
The Extra Point is a regular feature on BamaCentral, and often includes video and other elements from our FanNation partners. Other recent segments include:
Despite spending most of the week on the COVID-19 list where he was one of a handful of players who ended up with an initial false-positive, New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney didn't find out until Friday that he would be able to play against the Las Vegas Raiders. Subscribe for full article
Get Exclusive Access to Bama Central Content
Already a FanNation Member? Log In