Promising players leaving the Redskins as underachievers and then flourishing elsewhere is such a stale cliche, but darn if it hasn’t happened again. Obviously Devin Thomas wasn’t drafted in the second round of that accursed 2008 draft to be a special teams ace, but he seems to have found his niche in New York. And wouldn’t you know it, Thomas’s two fumble recoveries on Sunday were two of the biggest reasons the Giants are going back to the Super Bowl.
“After all the preparation and posturing, the difference between the Giants and the 49ers on Sunday essentially came down to a 25-year-old special-teams player who managed to be in the right position to fall on a uniquely contoured ball best known for taking strange bounces,” the New York Times’s Harvey Araton wrote.
“The ball rolling for an eyeblink or two before a punt-team specialist named Devin Thomas cradles, then covers, then smothers it — the second time he recovered a [Kyle] Williams fumble,” the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro wrote.
“The special teams play of Jacquain Williams and Devin Thomas was key for Big Blue,” read the headline on ESPN New York.
Thomas was on ESPN 980 with Skins beat reporter Chris Russell on Monday night, and when Russell asked about going to the Super Bowl, Thomas — unprompted — brought up his former team.
“First of all let me just say shout out, big ups to all the Redskins fans,” Thomas began. “ I’ve still got a lot of love for you guys. You know, things didn’t work out, but you guys did a great job this year, knocking us off. We were 0-2 against you this year.”
And then Thomas talked about recovering those fumbles — one of which he kept after the game — and boarding a flight for home, knowing he had helped send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
“I was exhausted,” he said. “Still on Cloud 9, just relaxing, like man I can’t believe this, finally, after all I’ve been through, it’s finally an opportunity for my lifelong dream, to make it to the Super Bowl....
“I give all the thanks to the man upstairs, keeping me grounded, keeping me humble through all the situations that I’ve been through,” he continued. “Hard work and dedication and buying into the team concept that Coach Coughlin has installed into this team. I just give all thanks to my team and being a part of this team; that we all stick together like brothers, we kept the dream alive. And now we’re at the Super Bowl, so that’s all that really matters.”
Thomas also discussed his transition from life as a star wide receiver to his NFL career as a little-known special teamer.
“I just always take pride in the fact that I’m an all-around player,” he told Russell. “Wherever you put me, I’m gonna try my best, give you my hard work and effort. And the team [is] loaded with guys at receiver. I knew my role was gonna come in special teams, and I was gonna play that balls to the wall.
“So I just really give kudos to my special teams coach Tom Quinn for putting me in position to make pays and having trust in me to make plays. And one things we emphasize is trying to make turnovers, and in a huge game like that with everything on the line, I just tried to step up as much as possible...
“When I seen that ball I just glued in and I just made sure I secured it. I grabbed the ball made sure I secured it, and in my mind nobody was gonna take that ball from me.”
Devin Thomas. How about that.