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DeVito-Sweeney connection years in the making


DETROIT – The Giants' only touchdown in their preseason opener was years in the making.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito threw a 14-yard scoring pass to tight end Tommy Sweeney with 4:55 remaining in the second quarter to give the Giants a 10-point lead against Detroit. The Lions rallied for a 21-16 victory Friday night in Ford Field, but for the Giants the DeVito-Sweeney connection was one of the game's highlights.

In 2013, the two Tommies were teammates at Don Bosco Prep, a renowned prep powerhouse in Ramsey, N.J., about 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium. DeVito was a precocious freshman and Sweeney a wizened senior. Now they are both recent additions to the Giants competing to remain with the team into the regular season. They helped their cause by teaming up for a touchdown, which was Sweeney's only reception of the game.

"That's a pretty incredible thing," said Sweeney, who got a step on linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin before catching DeVito's perfectly thrown ball. "I don't know that that's happened many times in the history of the NFL, so that's pretty cool. He played a great game today, showed his toughness. That was a great one.

"A lot of connections up in Ramsey. It's nice to get one out here in Detroit."

Second-year safety Dane Belton set up the touchdown by intercepting a Nate Sudfeld pass and returning it 42 yards. Sweeney scored six seconds later.

"I know they'd like to get a couple more of those," coach Brian Daboll said. "I think probably pretty cool for those two guys."

DeVito is a rookie free agent who began his collegiate career at Syracuse and concluded it at Illinois. Sweeney played 24 games for the Buffalo Bills from 2019-22.

"We had one season together," Sweeney said. "I remember he was young, confident, not in a bad way, in a good way. He was the quarterback. That's a big part of playing the position in sports and he came in and had that. (He) threw the ball really well and that's the main thing. He was 14 or 15 at that point, showing that ability to come up and play with the older guys as a 14-year-old kid is good, obviously turned that into a state championship for himself."

"There was definitely a gap - I was a freshman, he was a senior, " said DeVito. "At Bosco, they have senior, they have J.V. ball, sophomore ball and freshman ball. As a freshman, I was kinda playing freshman, sophomore and J.V. I would dress for varsity games. I would practice with varsity as well, so that's how we connected. But we weren't super, super close. We always stayed in contact from when he graduated and so-forth."

DeVito entered the game after Tyrod Taylor played the first two series. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 155 yards and ran for 11 yards on four carries. DeVito was also sacked five times and threw an interception on the Giants' final play, a desperation fourth-and-15 from their own 33-yard line.

"I thought he did a nice job," Daboll said. "He operated well. He had a play, obviously we threw the interception there at the end, but it was fourth-and-15, and he had a play like that in camp early on where it was fourth-and-15, and he threw a checkdown for five yards. And obviously he threw it up to try to give him a chance. They made a play on it. But I thought he operated well. Made some good decisions. Used his legs. He was under some pressure sometimes there. Took care of the ball on some of those sacks. So definitely a performance to work off of."

View photos from the Giants' preseason opener against the Lions in Detroit.

*Graham Gano, already in midseason form, scored the Giants' other nine points on field goals of 48, 42 and 47 yards.

*Safety Jason Pinnock, who has taken most of the first-team reps next to Xavier McKinney, made three big plays in the first four minutes.

On the game's first snap, he picked off a Nate Sudfeld pass and returned it 18 yards to the Lions' 23-yard line to set up Gano's first field goal. Pinnock got an assist from linebacker Tomon Fox, who hit Sudfeld low as he released the ball. On Detroit's next offensive play, Pinnock tackled rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, the Lions' first-round draft choice this year, for a three-yard loss. On fourth down, he knocked down a pass intended for Sam LaPorta.

"It was like you get that little high real quick, so you know you get it going for preseason, roll it into the regular (season)," Pinncok said. "I knew I had a 15-play cap, I had to make something shake."

"He's had a good camp," Daboll said. "We were going to play him in roughly 10 to 12 plays, but he had some productive plays early on. So, we got him out, gave some other guys some opportunities. But, pretty productive day for a short amount of time."

*Lions rookie quarterback Adrian Martinez scored the game-winning points on a one-yard quarterback sneak with 1:51 remaining, but Detroit's biggest play of the game was a 95-yard punt return touchdown by Maurice Alexander. They scored a subsequent two-point conversion that lifted the Lions to within 13-11 and displeased Daboll.

"First thing is we had 10 guys on the field, so we had to burn a timeout, so that's not good," Daboll said. "That falls on me, and then I just saw him break off to the sideline and it was 95 yards, right? Give them credit, it was a heck of a play. We'll take a look at it on tape, but usually when you give up those long punt returns, it's a momentum changer."

*Most of the Giants' front-line players did not play. Their starting offense included Tyrod Taylor, running back Matt Breida, wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins and rookie Jalin Hyatt, tight ends Daniel Bellinger and Lawrence Cager, left tackle Matt Peart, left guard Joshua Ezeudu, rookie center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Ben Bredeson and right tackle Korey Cunningham.

*Defensively, the Giants started linemen Brandin Bryant and rookie Jordon Riley; linebackers Micah McFadden, Carter Coughlin, Oshane Ximines and Fox; rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins; and safeties Pinnock and Belton.

*Rookie running back Eric Gray returned kickoffs and punts. He is listed as the first punt returner on the team's depth chart. Gary Brightwell is the Giants' first kickoff returner, but he missed the game due an injury suffered during the practice Tuesday at the Lions' facility.

*Offensive lineman Devery Hamilton and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches also did not suit up because of injuries.

*Wide receiver Collin Johnson (knee) and cornerback Cor'Dale Flott (abdomen) left the game with injuries.

*Referee Clete Blakeman was one of the referees who officiating the Giants/Lions joint practices this week.

*Quarterback Daniel Jones had a pregame visit with the 14u Hillsdale Hawks boys baseball team, which won the New Jersey state championship and the eastern regionals in Delaware and are in Detroit representing the region in the Junior Little League World Series. The Hawks are Giants fans and attended the game.


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