xavier mckinney giants raiders
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The Giants defeated the Raiders in Week 9 thanks, in part, to two picks from Xavier McKinney.

Many wins in this league have defining moments.

It could be back and forth with maybe a tie score here and there, but one play could provide a team a lead and that ballclub doesn’t look back thereafter.

In Sunday’s Giants win over the talented Las Vegas Raiders, that one play was a third-quarter pick-six from Xavier McKinney.

On a Derek Carr pass to Hunter Renfrow in Vegas territory, the second-year safety, who the Giants drafted in the 2020 second round out of Alabama, utilized superb vision, made a great play on the ball, and the rest was history.

Forty-one yards later, McKinney was in the end zone for his first touchdown at the professional level.

After the ensuing Graham Gano extra point, the Giants took a 17-13 lead over the Raiders and never trailed again.

The NFC and AFC ballclubs notched field goals following that score, but that was it. The Giants exited MetLife Stadium with a 23-16 victory, their third of the season and a crucial one considering they can still be in the mix for a Wild Card playoff spot.

McKinney eventually recorded another interception — his fourth of the season — in the fourth quarter. On a ball from Carr down the right sideline, McKinney put the aforementioned balls skills to use once again and tapped his feet in bounds to secure the turnover. Given the Raiders were down 20-16 at the time, it was an incredible play from Xavier and one that led to the Giants extending their lead to 23-16 with just 3:21 remaining in regulation.

Again, sometimes one play can change the narrative and give a team momentum. And while the Giants weren’t perfect following McKinney’s pick-six, the play provided the defensive unit with inspiration, including on the Raiders’ final offensive possession. Vegas was driving for the potential game-tying touchdown and extra point. But on a 2nd-and-10 play, rookie edge rusher Quincy Roche made the biggest play of his career thus far, strip-sacking Carr before Leonard Williams recovered the ball.

The Giants subsequently took a knee to conclude the day.

Offensive Woes

This Giants offense needs to find a rhythm — the unit has averaged just under 20 points per game over its last five matchups. Not ideal, to say the least.

On Sunday, the issues persisted.

While Devontae Booker constructed an impressive performance and ran for 99 yards on 21 carries, the passing game was almost non-existent. Daniel Jones completed just 15 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown.

Giants receivers combined for just three catches — yes, you read that right.

I don’t mean to rain on the parade, especially after a huge win over one of the better teams in the AFC.

But the Giants must find the solutions to the issues, and quickly. They cannot go into a matchup with the powerful Buccaneers following the upcoming Week 10 bye with these problems, or else they will not be able to keep up with that Tom Brady-led offense whatsoever.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

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