Unsung Hero: Dalvin Tomlinson Is a Bright Spot In Vikings’ Loss to Browns

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson had perhaps his best game of the season so far in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns. Although the team didn’t come out victorious, they have to be pleased that their free-agent acquisition is having a noticeable impact on opposing offensive lines.

Dalvin Tomlinson’s Sunday Performance

Tomlinson’s presence was most evident when the Vikings appeared to hold the Browns to a second goal-line stand on the day. On 1st-and-goal, Tomlinson drew a holding penalty from right guard Wyatt Teller as he pushed the pocket on Baker Mayfield. Four plays later, Tomlinson again worked Teller and forced Mayfield to escape the pocket before throwing an incompletion. Unfortunately, linebacker Eric Kendricks was called for defensive holding, and the Browns would score three plays later.

Pro Football Focus graded Tomlinson as the Vikings’ best defender on Sunday. Brought in for his run defense, he actually recorded a pass-rush grade of 88.1 against Cleveland while notching his first sack as a Viking. PFF also awarded him with two defensive “stops”, or plays that they constitute as resulting in a “failure” for the offense.


It should also be noted that Tomlinson wasn’t in on the 3rd-and-20 conversion by the Browns. Because the Vikings (wrongly) assumed that the Browns were going to pass with no timeouts left late in the half, Tomlinson was on the sideline. In his place at defensive tackle was D.J. Wonnum, a defensive end by trade. Had Tomlinson been in, he probably wouldn’t have run himself out of the play like Wonnum did.

Conclusion

It may feel odd to celebrate a defensive tackle on a day where the defense allowed 184 rushing yards. But Dalvin Tomlinson proved that he was worth the two-year, $22 million contract the Vikings gave to him in March. He has been a huge upgrade over Jaleel Johnson because of not only his ability to push the pocket, but also to disrupt the running game.

With the injury to nose tackle Michael Pierce, don’t be surprised to see Tomlinson start seeing time at nose tackle, his position with the Giants. Although Mike Zimmer said that he won’t move Tomlinson to nose, the team may be forced to if third-year defender Armon Watts can’t handle the duties.