It’s no secret Derrick Henry loves playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The NFL’s leading rusher and the Tennessee Titans bounced back in a big way on Sunday, with Henry running for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in a 31-10 blowout over the division rivals.
Henry now has four 200-yard, two-touchdown rushing performances since 2018, equaling the combined total for the rest of the NFL in that period.
After last week’s worrisome loss to the Cleveland Browns, in which Henry produced his second-lowest rushing output of the season, Sunday was a course-correcting effort for the running back and the team as a whole.
“If we could go 4-0 these last couple of weeks, I’d be most happy,” Henry said. “Last week, I was really pissed off about the way I played, thought I played poorly and I didn’t do my job to help my team, so I’m still pissed off about last week. […] Stats really don’t matter. You do what you need to do to help your team win. Then everything else takes care of itself.”
Henry wasn’t the only Titan making plays Sunday. Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith reached deep into his bag of tricks with a first-quarter flea flicker that ended with a sensational one-handed touchdown grab from A.J. Brown. Tight end Geoff Swain scored his first touchdown as a Titan. Safety Amani Hooker picked up a first down on a gutsy fake punt deep in Tennessee territory. Even backup quarterback Logan Woodside ran for 18 yards on a bootleg in garbage time.
“That’s how we want to play the game,” head coach Mike Vrabel said. “When you ask the players to come out and be ready to go, to play fast and aggressive, finish fast, finish strong, it kind of has to reflect that. We are trying not to be reckless. We got a favorable look on the punt team. Flea-flicker, two guys made a play. A.J. made a play with plenty of protection because they were in man coverage.”
Ryan Tannehill was also clinically efficient, finishing 19-24 with 212 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, the Titans had one of their best games of the season. Jacksonville’s 10 points were the fewest a Tennessee opponent has scored in 2020. Malcolm Butler made a highlight interception early in the third quarter and the Jaguars gained just 91 yards on the ground. The pass rush is still lacking but the pass coverage was a huge improvement from a week ago.
And on special teams, Stephen Gostkowski made his only field goal attempt and all four extra points. In a season rife with kicking disasters, a perfect afternoon is rare.
Top to bottom, every section of Tennessee’s roster stepped up on Sunday versus the week before. But that’s how it should be against a nearly winless Jacksonville squad. If the Titans — who are now 9-4 — are going to avoid finishing 9-7 for the fifth consecutive season, they will have to continue firing on all cylinders rather than relying so heavily on the offense.
“It just says we have nine wins, and we have a long way to go,” Vrabel said. “We’re going to have to go back to work and try to get our 10th win and keep moving from there.”