Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrating his touchdown against...

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrating his touchdown against the Washington Commanders with quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik

After making two starts on the road, Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito will play a home game on Sunday.

For DeVito, the 25-year-old undrafted rookie who grew up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, and in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, this has to be surreal.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” DeVito said. “I imagine it’s going to be like the last two games, but with a little more of my friends and family there. That’s really about it.

“It’s a little tougher to play away, in a road atmosphere. So it’ll be home, I’ll be comfortable and it’ll be a lot of fun.”

DeVito will have an army of supporters in the stadium.

The local kid as the starting quarterback in an NFL game in his home state is compelling stuff. Especially when you add that it comes against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

Since Belichick became the Patriots’ coach in 2000, six rookie quarterbacks have defeated New England: Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Mark Sanchez (2009), Colt McCoy (2010), Russell Wilson (2012), Geno Smith (2013) and Tua Tagovailoa (2020).

Asked at a news conference about DeVito, Belichick said: “Made some good decisions, made some big plays for them. There’s a little bit of lack of experience but he seems to be pretty football-savvy, street-smart. He made some key plays on third down in the red area and does a pretty good job taking care of the ball.”

Of Belichick being on the opposing sideline, DeVito said he was on the team at the East-West Shrine Bowl (college football All-Star Game for seniors) that Belichick coached in February.

“It’s an honor to be able to play against him,” DeVito said. “It’s a challenge, but I look forward to it.”

In recent weeks, it’s become clear that DeVito has won over the locker room.

“Tommy’s my guy,” Saquon Barkley said. “I love the whole storyline. I love that he’s from Jersey, he lives with his parents and he’s the starting quarterback of the New York Giants. Tommy doesn’t walk around like an underdog. He’s confident. I’m telling you right now, you wouldn’t think that he’s a rookie.

“I’m happy for him, and my job as a leader is to continue to stay on his side, help build his confidence and help make plays for him when the opportunity comes.”

Brian Daboll has credited offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney for the work they’ve done with DeVito, who started this season on the practice squad. After injuries sidelined Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor, DeVito became the starter.

The 6-2, 210-pound DeVito played his college ball at Syracuse and transferred to Illinois for his final season.

DeVito described it as a “long journey” to get to this point. He considers the transfer to Illinois for his final season of college football as pivotal.

“I just had to get a change of scenery and had a good year at Illinois,” he said. “It wasn’t the perfect road, but it is what it is. I think that [Illinois] Coach [Bret] Bielema and his staff and everybody that they had in that building were tremendous for me. I think they helped me grow a lot.”

In the Giants’ locker room, DeVito still has his locker with the practice squad players. He is comfortable with the media. He is almost always smiling.

“Every day is a learning experience,” Daboll said. “So every rep he has is something that you give him a different look, and maybe it’s the first time he’s seen it in a long time. But he’s conscientious. He’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do.”

Asked this past week how he is handling his new celebrity, DeVito said he is “staying off the phone.”

When he’s on the sideline, he said he likes the mood to be light. “I like to stay loose and just enjoy the moment, enjoy the process and enjoy the game,” he said.

Asked what he proved last Sunday in the 31-19 win over Washington, DeVito said: “That I’m a competitor. I just love to play the game of football. I think that I’ll try to show that every time I take a snap because you never know what snap is going to be your last. So I just try to embrace it, go out there and just try to play for my teammates.”

His teammates are now playing for him, too.


MetLife Stadium, 1 p.m.


Line: Patriots by 3 ½; O/U 34

TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma).
Radio: WFAN-660 AM (Bob Papa, Carl Banks, Howard Cross); Sirius XM 85 or 225.
All-time series: Patriots lead, 7-4 (Patriots have won 6 of last 7).
Last meeting: Oct. 10, 2019, (at) Patriots 35, Giants 14.

Giants: OUT: OT Evan Neal (ankle). DOUBTFUL: DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (neck. QUESTIONABLE: RB Eric Gray (ankle). 
Patriots: QUESTIONABLE: LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (hamstring), OT Trent Brown (ankle), CB Jonathan Jones (knee), WR DeVante Parker (concussion), OL Riley Rieff (knee), WR Matthew Slater (ankle), DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (shoulder).

Coach Brian Daboll said he was impressed last week when he walked into a defensive meeting room and linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux was running a meeting. “That’s good to see,” Daboll said. “He really works hard at his craft. He meets a lot with the coaches.”

With Tommy DeVito now the starting quarterback for the Giants, is filling ticket requests from family and friends in the Metro area a problem? “Oh no, no, no, no, no. I shut that down really early and really often,” he said. “My mom, my dad and my brother get the tickets. Everybody else, you’re on your own. I set that up in the preseason, and that’s how it’s going to go.”

Pats coach Bill Belichick declined to say who his starting quarterback will be Sunday. “I’ve told everybody to be ready to go,” he said. Mac Jones has started the first 10 games for New England but has been benched three times. Other candidates: Bailey Zappe, Will Grier and Malik Cunningham.

“I’m sure by a lot of people I am.. I like to say that I’m strong, especially for my size."
Giants receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who is 5-8, 185 pounds and had a big block on a Saquon Barkley run last week, when asked if opponents underestimated him.

13: Tackles last week for Giants safety Xavier McKinney. He can become the first DB since 2015 (Corey Graham) with 10-plus tackles in four straight games.


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