From once-tanking to playoff hopefuls: Tommy DeVito’s inspiring journey with the Giants

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was cute at first, funny. The hand motion, memes, lovable family. Tommy DeVito’s authenticity captivated a Giants franchise starved of all success the first three months of the season. He was exactly what this team needed in its lowest moments.

Four starts later, all that’s still the case.

Only now, no one’s laughing.

New York’s feel-good story has the Giants on a three-game win streak and in the thick of the playoff picture. Monday night’s 24-22 victory over the Packers puts the Giants a game out of the seventh seed with four to play.

“Tommy, wow — I mean, wow,” said wideout Isaiah Hodgins. “Whatever it is, it’s fun. It’s fun to be a part of and it’s fun to watch.”

The basis of the story feels farfetched even for Hollywood. DeVito — a local kid from Cedar Grove, N.J., who starred at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey — signs with the nearby NFL franchise as an undrafted free agent. He’s a roster long shot, so he decides to live at home with his parents some 15 minutes from MetLife Stadium. He ends up playing well enough in training camp and the preseason to stick around on the practice squad. Then, after an injury to Daniel Jones, he’s signed to the active roster and named the backup. Then, after an injury to Tyrod Taylor — Jones’ replacement — he’s named the starter.

That, in and of itself, is good enough. Only for DeVito it was just beginning. He’s now made four starts. After losing his first to the Cowboys, he’s rattled off three straight victories. The once-tanking Giants are now 5-8. DeVito isn’t just playing a minor role, either. He’s operating the Giants offense like a season veteran. He’s a major reason they’re winning.

Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsDec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports / © Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

He was 18 of 26 for 246 yards with three touchdowns in the win over the Commanders. He was 17 of 25 for 191 yards and the game-winning score against the Patriots. Granted, there’s a common theme with both those opponents: They stink. That’s what makes Monday night so special.

The Packers do not stink. They entered Sunday red hot, winners in four of their last five. They were 6 1/2-point favorites. They were supposed to walk into MetLife Stadium, end the DeVito craze, then take a trip home.

The exact opposite happened.

“All that matters is what you do on that field,” wideout Jalin Hyatt said. “Tommy’s making the most of it.”

DeVito completed 17 of 21 passes (81%) for 158 yards and a touchdown — an impressive strike on a scramble drill to Hodgins in the back-right corner of the end zone. DeVito rushed for another 71 yards, including an electric 26-yard scamper that set up Saquon Barkley’s 1-yard score.

Most impressive: After the Packers took a one-point lead with 1:33 to go, DeVito took the field, looked at his teammates in the huddle and said, “Let’s go win the game.”

And that’s exactly what the Giants did.

Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsDec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

DeVito marched New York 57 yards in eight plays to set up Randy Bullock’s game-winning, 37-yard field goal. DeVito began the drive completing four straight passes to Wan’Dale Robinson (five yards), Barkley (seven yards), Darius Slayton (nine yards) and Robinson again (32 yards). That brought the ball down to the Packers’ 22.

The Giants ran Barkley three straight times to eat clock, ensuring that Bullock’s field goal killed the remaining time.

“The kid’s doing a good job,” Brian Daboll said.

It should be noted that the Giants face a serious uphill climb if they actually want to make the postseason. They’re alive, but their probability of actually getting there is less than 5%, according to most prediction models.

The Giants still must face the Eagles (10-3) twice, Saints (6-7) on the road, and the ascending Rams (6-7). New York can play with New Orleans and Los Angeles, but those Philly games are a challenge. The Giants, in all likelihood, need to win out. A tall task.

The fact that the Giants are here is almost unbelievable, considering where they were. That thumping dealt by the Cowboys dropped them to 2-8. They were done. Dead.

Then DeVito hit his stride. And now nothing seems impossible.

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