It took a while for the Tennessee Titans to figure out how to use Derrick Henry. Better late than never.
The Titans’ game plan on Saturday against the New England Patriots turned into an old-school offensive approach: One back, and feeding him over and over and over. Henry had 14 carries for 106 yards, and another 22-yard catch, before halftime. The Titans led 14-13.
Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards. His 16 rushing touchdowns also led the NFL. The Titans resisted making him a featured back for his first three seasons because ... well, who knows. Henry was a Heisman Trophy winner and a second-round pick, and the Titans didn’t seem to want to use the 247-pounder as a lead back for whatever reason.
That changed this season, and Henry paid off in a big way. For the first half, he was the Titans’ only offense. He had 128 yards and the rest of the team had 41 combined. At one point he had more than 100 straight yards for Tennessee, CBS said. Nobody else on the Titans gained any yards in the third quarter until a Ryan Tannehill third-down sneak with about 1:10 left. The Patriots were gashed by Henry runs early on, seemed to adjust, and then Henry got hot again near the end of the first half.
Henry’s 22-yard catch to the 1-yard line set up a Titans touchdown, which was scored by Henry of course. That gave the Titans a 14-13 lead going into halftime.
Henry will be a free agent after this season, and it will be curious to see what kind of market opens up for him. His big playoff game in New England won’t hurt his leverage.
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