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Safeties Looking To Duplicate Success Against Giants

It's a good bet that Eli Manning will make sure he knows where Minnesota's safeties are at all times tonight.

When the Vikings hosted New York in Week 16 of the 2015 season, both Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo picked off the Giants quarterback.

Those were two of three interceptions thrown by Manning in a game the Vikings won 49-17 to get their 10th win of the season and clinch a berth in the playoffs.

Sendejo said he was so focused on the victory that he hardly realized it was the first game in which he and Smith both had interceptions.

"I didn't really think about the fact that we both had one," Sendejo said.

Sendejo nabbed his pick midway through the first quarter, corralling a deflection of a Manning pass by cornerback Xavier Rhodes before returning it nine yards.

"My pick was pretty easy," Sendejo said. "Xavier had great coverage and tipped it in the air. I just happened to be standing right there.

"Sometimes you get those lucky bounces that come your way … I was fortunate enough to be there for that one," he added. 

Smith gave him a bit more credit. 

"A lot of times you see guys drop the easy ones," Smith said. "They all count the same."

Smith's interception put points on the board for the Vikings. 

With just over four minutes left in the second quarter, Smith baited Manning into a throw on the right hashmark. The former first-round selection leapt up and caught the pass before racing 35 yards for the score.

Smith's pick-6 was the fourth of his career, which set a Vikings franchise record. It also gave the Vikings a double-digit lead.

"I remember Harry's pick being at a crucial time," Sendejo said. "It changed the momentum of the game. Obviously, anytime you score on defense, that's huge."

Smith just said he was glad to capitalize on the opportunity. He said defensive backs talk often about how the team's chances to win skyrocket if the defense can create a turnover and find the end zone.

Smith had a comical celebration on the play, as he went to throw the ball and it slipped out of his hands.

Sendejo, who said Smith was "way too juiced" after the score, is looking for the first touchdown of his career.

He's been close. 

In a 2014 road game against Chicago, Sendejo gained 48 yards on a fake punt but was tackled at the 7-yard line. And against Detroit at home last year, he was tackled by Lions running back Ameer Abdullah on the 6-yard line after scooping up a fumble. 

Sendejo, who had two career interceptions entering this season, even had two fumble recoveries in the first two games of 2016.

"We actually have a running joke about me getting into the end zone," Sendejo said. "But I've been knocking at the door.

"Every time we get the ball the first thing that comes into our head is that we're scoring," he added. "That's our mentality, so hopefully it'll pay off for us soon. We don't always get the ball, so when we do we're going to make the most of it."

Perhaps pay dirt is just on the horizon.

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