It is getting harder and harder to look at what Tommy DeVito is doing for the New York Giants, and think the undrafted rookie free agent quarterback is a novelty act.
In his fourth career start, the New Jersey high school legend helped bail out Saquon Barkley and the rest of his teammates. He went 4-for-4 for 53 yards, including a 32-yard strike to Wan’Dale Robinson with less than a minute to play, to lead the Giants down the field for a game-winning 36-yard Randy Bullock field goal as time expired to lift the surging Giants past the Green Bay Packers, 24-22.
A Barkley fumble after a 34-yard run to the Green Bay 18-yard line was recovered by the Packers and returned to the Giants’ 36-yard line. The Packers capitalized on a 6-yard pass from Jordan Love to Malik Heath to take a 22-21 lead with 1:33 to play.
All that did was set the stage for some DeVito magic, as he led the first game-winning drive of his NFL career.
Isaiah Hodgins said all DeVito told his teammates in the huddle before the final drive began with 1:33 to play was “let’s lock in and go win this.”
Which, with DeVito pulling the strings, is exactly what the Giants did.
‘Tommy Cutlets’ is no longer an emergency starter, which is what he was when the Giants turned to him after both Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor were injured. He’s no longer just a nice story, a flash in the pan who’s star is inevitably going to fade. It still might, but with each passing week it becomes more difficult to say DeVito can’t be, or isn’t, a legitimate NFL quarterback. He’s now the starter, having been chosen for that role over Taylor when the veteran quarterback returned from his broken ribs last week.
“Whatever it is, whatever people like to call it, man, it’s fun,” said Isaiah Hodgins, recipient of an outstanding 8-yard touchdown throw from DeVito in the third quarter. “It’s fun to be a part of. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to be part of his team ... It’s just amazing to be a part of, seeing his growth, seeing his composure for a free agent rookie. I’m sure if you asked him last year if he’d be in this spotlight he’d be like ‘there’s no chance.’
“He’s out there possibly leading us back this year. I’m happy for him.”
Hodgins said the quarterback was “on fire” in the huddle throughout the game.
“You could just see it in his eyes,” Hodgins said. “He was locked in.”
Barkley was certainly appreciative.
“I think the biggest thing in that situation is just stay calm, don’t force anything, two of those throws were check downs, one was a big throw to Wan’Dale. I forgot the other one. I think three of those were just reading the defense, taking what they give you, snap it and keep going,” Barkley said. “That’s rare for a rookie quarterback, but with the confidence and swagger he plays with, you could feel it through the stadium, you could feel it on the sideline, and happy we were able to get the win today.”
What was DeVito thinking when he stepped into the huddle for the final drive?
“Just go win the football game,” he said. “Go execute a drive that we practice every day before practice, which is a two-minute drive. We do it every day, different situations. With all the practice, we have that exact situation or something very similar to it, so just go out, execute the offense and go win the game.”
Tommy Devito & Brian Daboll ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ttis5s2qgH— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) December 12, 2023
Safety Jason Pinnock. who contributed an interception and a huge late-game pass breakup in the end zone that denied Green Bay a touchdown, said he was “proud of” DeVito and had “no doubt” he was capable of leading the game-winning drive.
“He’s not a typical undrafted rookie,” Pinnock said. “He’s different. He’s unique and I’m proud he got his opp[ortunity].”
“He’s doing a great job,” said Giants’ star left tackle Andrew Thomas. “Got thrown into the fire. He’s responded the right way. Real confident making plays, keeping a positive mindset even when things aren’t going our way.
“He’s given us juice.”
Thomas, the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, knows what DeVito has done is not normal.
“That’s the beauty of the NFL. If you getr an opportunity and you capitalize on it anything can happen,” Thomas said. “Where you’re drafted doesn’t guarantee how you poay, how you respond to adversity, how you respond to your opportunity ... He’s doing a great job of responding the right way.”
Robinson had his best game since tearing his ACL almost exactly a year ago. He had six catches for 79 yards, including the 32-yarder that set up the game-winning points, and two rushes for 36 yards.
Robinson said DeVito was “composed, relentless, everything that you want out of your quarterback” on the final drive.
“He’s all laughing and joking in the locker room,” Robinson said. “But whenever we get out on that field he’s a stone-cold killer.”
Week by week, DeVito is certainly killing the idea that he doesn’t belong. How long this ride will last and where it will lead is anyone’s guess. It sure is fun, though.