EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Two weeks ago, someone asked New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito about the hand gesture.
You know one. Pinched fingers. A person who is easily recognizable as Italian. It doesn’t quite have a name, but you know it when you see it. He’s been the talk of New York since DeVito took over the reins for the Giants.
“Everyone is doing it at this point. I don’t know,” the New Jersey native said of the little phenomenon he started. “I’m cool with it. “It’s just an atmosphere.”
The gesture became part of DeVito’s growing legend. As for the atmosphere, it changes the atmosphere in New York. The Giants have gone from a team on the brink of collapse to a team that suddenly has hope. DeVito is largely responsible.
In the month since he took over as the Giants’ starter, he has become a fan favorite. An overnight sensation, the local kid who played at Don Bosco Prep is now suiting up for his hometown team and helping keep their faint playoff hopes alive. In a losing situation — taking over a 2-7 team — he won over Giants fans and proved to be a winner on the field as well.
The crazy part is that DeVito’s story probably wasn’t meant to be a story at all. Not this year at least. He was an undrafted rookie who was never supposed to play this season. Daniel Jones was the starter. Tyrod Taylor was the replacement. DeVito was not part of the plan.
He was only thrust into the spotlight because both quarterbacks were injured. Once Taylor returns from injury, DeVito will return to the bench. Except that’s not what the Giants decided to do. After helping lead them to back-to-back wins in Week 13, the Giants elected to stick with DeVito.
And on Monday night, under the lights of MetLife Stadium, DeVito made that decision seem like a very wise one. The quarterback led the Giants to a 24-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers, including making a masterful last-minute drive down the field to set up Randy Bullock’s game-winning field goal to push New York to 5-8 and beyond. The edge of playoff contention.
DeVito meets the moment as the Giants get yelled at by the Packers
While Wink Martindale’s defense deserves credit for forcing a Jordan Love turnover and confusing the Packers’ young quarterback throughout the game, Monday night was all about DeVito mania. From his Jersey swagger, to his finger pinching, to the stories about DeVito living at home and his mom cooking him “Tommy Cutlet” dinners, the world couldn’t get enough. Even DeVito’s agent, Sean Stellato, became part of the story.
But it was DeVito’s play on the field that became the bigger story. He did everything he had to do to win, starting with staying upright.
After being sacked 20 times in his first three starts, DeVito and the Giants came up with a better plan for him to stay on his feet. It worked out beautifully, as DeVito wasn’t sacked once on Monday. He also had no interceptions for the third straight game. He finished 17 of 21 passing for 158 yards with a great touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins on a breakup play.
“I didn’t know he could run like that,” running back Saquon Barkley said of DeVito, who added 10 carries for 71 yards on the ground. “That throw he made to Isaiah in the back of the end zone — that shot was amazing, but he rolled to his right, threw a dart, he’s a very bad player. He’s the real deal.”
DeVito proved the same on the final drive. After Barkley’s bizarre fumble and Packers’ touchdown put Green Bay ahead 22-21 late in the fourth quarter, DeVito had 1:33 to drive the Giants down the field to set up Bullock for a game-winning field goal attempt.
Before that final series, Giants coach Brian Daboll said he knew he didn’t have to worry about the rookie quarterback and didn’t have to tell him much.
“Here are two plays you like: Go out and tear up this son of a bitch,” Daboll recalled telling DeVito.
In this rally, DeVito kept it simple.
“Let’s win the game,” DeVito said. “It’s on us, in case we attack.”
After three quick passes that reached 21 yards, DeVito connected with Wan’Dale Robinson down the right sideline for a 32-yard gain. DeVito finished the drive 4-of-4 for 53 yards.
“He laughs and jokes no matter what in the locker room, but when we get out on the field, it’s like he’s a cold-blooded killer,” said Robinson, who finished Monday with six catches for 79 yards. “I feel like that’s what you want from your quarterback. I mean he’s laser focused and telling everyone this is going to be ours.
After several Barkley runs and with the Giants in field goal range, DeVito headed to the sidelines and stood with Daboll to watch the kick. The coach told DeVito he wouldn’t watch the game, but then changed his mind. Once the ball sailed through the goalposts, The two jumped into each other’s arms.
DeVito remained on the field after the win with his teammates, throwing up his right arm in celebration and greeting fans still celebrating the victory. In the locker room, the finger-pinch gesture was everywhere as the team celebrated its first winning streak of the season.
“He’s earned the right to play today, and he’s earned the right to play next week,” Daboll said. “The kid did a good job.”
(Tommy DeVito Image: Katherine Reilly/Getty Images)
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