With the Dallas Cowboys threatening to take the lead and potentially the division title, New York Giants rookie safety Xavier McKinney stepped up to the plate, notching his first career interception in the endzone with just 75 seconds remaining in regulation on Sunday. While running back Wayne Gallman did his best to keep things interesting, the Giants came away victorious and kept their playoff hopes alive for at least the next couple of hours.
McKinney’s game-sealing interception shattered the dreams of Cowboys faithful worldwide, including one of their most vocal supporters, the one-and-only Skip Bayless. Riding high off his victory, the rookie safety figured why not throw a bit more salt on the wound.
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McKinney Comes With the Receipts, Trolls Bayless
McKinney took to social media after the game to deliver what NJ.com’s Art Stapleton deemed a “Twitter knockout” to the FS1’s Undisputed co-host.
Bayless had publically petitioned against his Cowboys selecting McKinney in last April’s draft, a petition that clearly had not gone unnoticed by the safety.
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McKinney Starting to Live Up to the Hype
It took some time for McKinney to see the field this season, but he’s finally starting to show glimpses of what had Giants fans so giddy about snagging him this past April.
The highly-touted rookie was lauded as a draft-day steal and potential defensive rookie of the year candidate after being picked with the No. 36 overall selection. However, a fractured foot sustained in the latter end of training camp wiped out the majority of his rookie campaign. The former first-team All-SEC selection didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 12 and even then his usage was minimal, logging a total of 11 defensive snaps over his first two weeks back.
Yet, as time has gone on, the Giants have called upon McKinney to do more and the safety has responded, none more so than in Week 17. Seeing an increased snap count in each of the past three games, McKinney played a season-high 46 against Dallas, and used those extra snaps to make his presence felt.
The 22-year-old Georgia native registered a career-high eight tackles on the afternoon, as well as one pass break up to go along with the aforementioned interception. He also got his hands on a ball earlier in the game, but the interception was ultimately overturned due to a pass interference call on fellow rookie defensive back Darnay Holmes.
Giants Rich With Talent on the Back End
While the Giants roster has its fair share of question marks, safety is certainly not one of them. Veteran Logan Ryan has exceeded all expectations in his first season with New York and was recently rewarded with a three-year contract extension. Jabrill Peppers has put forth, by most accounts, his best season to date and is arguably the heart and soul of Big Blue’s defense.
Yet, despite all the talent ahead of him, expect McKinney to continue to carve out a significant role moving forward and serve as a potential centerpiece for years to come.
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