Dalvin Tomlinson did not answer when asked if he had ever lost a season-opening game in his time at Alabama. He just laughed.
In other words, no. Of course they did not.
So losing to the Cowboys on opening night with the Giants in his NFL debut was something new for him. And like most rookies that come from big-time college programs with perennial title aspirations, he had to be reminded that a loss in September does not have the same consequences in the NFL as it does in the NCAA.
“It’s refreshing,” Tomlinson told Newsday. “It’s a little less pressure. In college it’s pretty much if you lose one game, everything has to play out perfectly right for you to get back into that (championship) situation. In the NFL it’s like, you just have to move on and get ready for the next week and get better, keep progressing throughout the season.”
Tomlinson said he understood that in a theoretical way when he came to the Giants. It took this week for him to understand it.
“It’s different,” he said of the team’s mentality after the loss. “The older guys are like: ‘It’s just the first game, we have to move on to the next one, we can’t dwell on that one loss.’ At ‘Bama, we weren’t used to losing.”
In his four years at Alabama, Tomlinson’s teams were 36-2 when he played. The only mid-season loss he suffered was in 2015 to Mississippi. The Tide came back to win the national championship that season. His only other loss was in last season’s national title game against Clemson.
“At first I was like ‘Dang, we just lost,’” Tomlinson said of his reaction on Sunday. “But I just listened to the vets. You have to move on to the next week and get better and keep getting better week in and week out.”
Unlike in college, no one in the NFL gets woken from their championship dreams by mid-September.