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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Tommy DeVito is the unexpected star for the Giants in a season of injuries and disappointment

    New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) celebrates with wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (18) after Hodgins caught a touchdown pass against the New England Patriots during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) passes under pressure against the New England Patriots during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

    East Rutherford, N.J. — The New York Giants' season began with high expectations, hopes of a second straight playoff trip and wild dreams of a fifth Super Bowl title.

    So it's appropriate they headed into their bye week with the focus being on the exploits of the suddenly well-known Tommy DeVito.

    That's the way the season has gone.

    New York's hope of closing the gap on the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East and the rest of the NFL's elite were dashed early by a brutally tough schedule and injuries, especially on the offense line. The Giants won two of their first 10 games and the anticipated joy left the Meadowlands.

    With five games left in the regular season, New York is 4-8 and still has two games with Philadelphia, which has a league-leading 10-1 record.

    Out of the disappointment, a feel-good story is being written. It doesn't feature Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, Dexter Lawrence or Kayvon Thibodeaux or any of the team's more recognizable players.

    It's DeVito, the New Jersey-grown undrafted rookie free agent who was cut at the ending of training camp and signed to the practice squad.

    His job was to learn and be an extra arm for workouts and then drive 20 to 25 minutes home to his parents' house in Cedar Grove, where he gets home-cooked meals and has his bed made every day.

    He's a fan favorite and a guy whose happy-go-lucky style is hard not to like. When he was introduced before Sunday's 10-7 win over the Patriots as the Giants' starting quarterback, the MetLife Stadium crowd greeted him with its biggest cheer.

    For DeVito, "it was a lot of fun" — the latest ride in a season that has seen Jones — neck (Oct. 8) and ACL (Nov. 8) — and backup Tyrod Taylor — ribs (Oct. 29) — go down with injuries. That, unexpectedly, has left DeVito as the No. 1 quarterback.

    Not only has DeVito done the job, he has led the Giants to their first two-game winning streak of the season. The Illinois product via Syracuse plays with confidence, has a swagger and is liked by teammates on both sides of the ball. The game is not too big for him. He also has avoided turnovers, for the most part.

    "Tommy's my guy, but I love the whole story line," Barkley said. "I love that he's from Jersey, he lives with his parents and he's the starting quarterback of the New York Giants. That whole thing is something I'd do in Madden. I would go and draft or pick an undrafted guy and put him on my team and just make him into a superstar.

    "That's stuff that I do in my spare time, what I've been doing since I was a kid. So, I love the underdog story and stuff like that."

    In three starts, DeVito has posted a 2-1 record with six touchdowns passes and one interception. His quarterback rating has been over 100 in wins over Washington and New England, the first undrafted rookie in the common-draft era to record a 100-plus passer rating in consecutive starts.

    While DeVito got his first home win as a Giants against the Patriots, it wasn't his first win at MetLife. He played at the stadium in high school, leading nearby Don Bosco Prep to a state title.

    "I try to bring that energy all the time," DeVito said. "I respect this game so much, but at the same time it's a child's game in my eyes. So I try to have fun with it, like I was when I was kid, when I was 5 years old playing with my friends in the backyard and I try to just bring that throughout practice."

    DeVito didn't do it alone. New York helped its new quarterback, recording nine takeaways, eight by the defense, in the last two games.

    Barkley said fans don't understand how hard it is to play in the NFL with the speed of the game and all the details involved in getting 11 guys on the same page.

    "Obviously, you get a win, confidence as a team just grows but it's the next man up," Barkley said. "It's your job to go out there and make plays, no matter what the situation is, and he's (DeVito) been doing a really good job of that."

    The Giants return on Dec. 11 with a Monday night game at home against the Packers (5-6). Whether DeVito remains the starter is a question mark. Taylor is eligible to come off injured reserve and coach Brian Daboll would not address the quarterback question Monday.

    So for now, DeVito can rest for the week and eat some of those chicken parm sandwiches that local delicatessens have been sending him after he disclosed it was one of his favorite eats — provided the chicken is sliced thin and fried crispy.

    That's what has become of the Giants' season.

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