The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, January 06, 2020 1:00 am

Titans relying on Henry, defense

Teresa M. Walker | Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans have made it clear they are very willing to mash their way through the postseason with the NFL's top rusher.

Derrick Henry followed up his career-best 1,540 yards in 15 games in the regular season with the best postseason running performance in franchise history with 182 yards. The Titans (10-7) were more than happy going a bit old school with Henry, a stingy defense and an All-Pro punter in stunning the New England Patriots 20-13 on Saturday night.

Coach Mike Vrabel, fresh off winning his postseason coaching debut, said Sunday the Titans understand how important running is, especially in the playoffs with Henry and this offense.

“Derrick trains and prepares to be able to handle that load, to carry that load,” Vrabel said.

Now the Titans are on to Baltimore for their second divisional game in three seasons, where the rested Ravens (14-2) await with the NFL's best record.

“We know exactly what we're facing, we know what type of team they are – they're the No. 1 team in the (NFL) so it's self-explanatory,” Henry said.

What's working

The run game. The offensive line pushed the Patriots off the line of scrimmage, and Henry had room to run. Tennessee finished with 201 yards rushing, second-best in franchise playoff history. Nobody rushed for more yards against New England this season, which had been sixth against the run.

Needs help

Kicking field goals. The Titans were the NFL's worst in the regular season making only 44.4% of their field goals, and their fourth and current kicker Greg Joseph has yet to attempt a field goal in his three games.

Stock up

Henry. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner dominated as he accounted for 75% of the offense. He not only set postseason franchise records with 34 carries for 182 yards, he gained 204 of Tennessee's 272 yards of total offense. In the Super Bowl era, only two other players had a bigger share of a team's total yards in a playoff game: Eric Dickerson with 77.2% for the Rams against Dallas on Jan. 4, 1986, and Larry Brown with 76% for Washington against San Francisco on Dec. 26, 1971.

He also had the second-most yards on the road in the playoffs since 1950. Only Freeman McNeil ran for more with 202 yards for the Jets at Cincinnati on Jan. 9, 1983. Henry also topped his own postseason franchise mark of 191 yards from scrimmage set in 2018 at Kansas City.

“He's so hard to tackle – the offensive line did a good job of creating some creases for him,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “There at the end, they were loading up the box and he's still able to get positive yards.”

Stock down

Tannehill. After his worst performance yet for Tennessee, he's now 8-3 as a starter but completed only 8 of 15 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He also was intercepted and fumbled twice – recovering one himself with Henry falling on the other.


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