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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Two weeks ago, someone asked New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito about the hand gesture.
You know the one. The pinched fingers. The one that is so easily identifiable as Italian. It doesn’t quite have a name, but you know it when you see it. It has been the talk of New York ever since DeVito took the reins for the Giants.
“Everybody is doing it at this point. I don’t know,” the New Jersey native said of the mini-phenomenon he’s started. “I’m cool with it. It’s just a vibe.”
Tommy DeVito on dad and agent celebrations “It’s good for business” https://t.co/R7mguiIPcH
— Charlotte Carroll (@charlottecrrll) December 12, 2023
The gesture has become a part of the growing DeVito legend. As for the vibe, he’s changing the one in New York. The Giants have gone from a team on the brink of a meltdown to one 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 almost overnight sensation, he’s the local kid who played at Don Bosco Prep and is now suiting up for his hometown team and helping keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Put in a losing situation — he took over a 2-7 team – he’s won over Giants fans and is proving to be a winner on the field, too.
The crazy part is the DeVito story probably should never have even been a story. 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 backup. DeVito wasn’t part of the plan.
He was only thrust into the spotlight because both quarterbacks got hurt. And once Taylor returned from injured reserve, DeVito would head back to the bench. Except, that’s not what the Giants decided to do. After helping lead them to back-to-back wins entering their Week 13 bye, the Giants elected to stick with DeVito.
And on Monday night, under the lights of MetLife Stadium, DeVito made that look like a very wise decision. The quarterback led the Giants to a 24-22 comeback win over the Green Bay Packers, including conducting a masterful last-minute march down the field to set up a game-winning Randy Bullock field goal to push New York to 5-8 and on the edge of playoff contention.
DeVito meets moment as Giants squeak by Packers
While Wink Martindale’s defense deserves credit for forcing two Jordan Love turnovers and flummoxing the young Packers quarterback all game, Monday night was all about DeVito-mania. From his Jersey swagger, to the finger pinch, to the stories about DeVito living at home and his mom cooking him, “Tommy Cutlets,” dinner, the world couldn’t get enough. Even DeVito’s agent, Sean Stellato, became part of the story.
Tommy DeVito's agent is absolutely perfect pic.twitter.com/LimaGUKJeo
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) December 12, 2023
But it was DeVito’s play on the field that became the bigger story. He did everything he needed to do to win, starting by staying upright.
After getting sacked 20 times in his first three starts, DeVito and the Giants came up with a better plan for him to stay afoot. It worked beautifully, as DeVito wasn’t sacked once on Monday. He also didn’t throw an interception for a third straight game. He finished 17-of-21 passing for 158 yards with a gorgeous touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins on a broken play.
TOMMY DEVITO TO ISAIAH HODGINS.
📺: #GBvsNYG on ABC
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/0LeBKvPPxF pic.twitter.com/ROZ6gGUsLC
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2023
“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 — the catch was amazing, but rolling to his right, throwing a dart, he’s a heckuva player. He’s the real deal.”
DeVito proved as much on the final drive. Following a strange Barkley fumble and a Packers touchdown that put Green Bay ahead 22-21 late in the fourth quarter, DeVito had 1:33 to drive the Giants down the field to position Bullock for a game-winning field goal attempt.
Ahead of that final series, Giants coach Brian Daboll said he knew he didn’t have to worry about his rookie quarterback and didn’t have to tell him much.
“‘Here are a couple plays you like: Go out and rip that son of a bitch,’” Daboll recalled telling DeVito.
In the huddle, DeVito kept it simple.
“Let’s go win the game,” DeVito said. “It’s on us, on the offense.”
After three quick-hitting passes that racked up 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’s all laugh and joking whatever in the locker room, but whenever we get out there on the field, it’s like he’s a stone-cold killer,” said Robinson, who finished Monday with six catches for 79 yards. “I feel like that’s what you want out of your quarterback. I mean he’s laser-focused and just letting everybody know this was going to be ours.”
After a few 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 wasn’t going to watch, but then changed his mind. As soon as the ball sailed through the uprights, the two jumped into each other’s arms.
Enough said 🤌 pic.twitter.com/bAwrIqMy81
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 12, 2023
DeVito stayed 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 their first winning streak of the season.
“He earned the right to play today, and he earned the right to play the next week,” Daboll said. “The kid’s done a good job.”
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(Photo of Tommy DeVito: Kathryn Riley / Getty Images)
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