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Henry continues hot streak against Chiefs

Henry continues hot streak against Chiefs

By: Aly Trost, Sports Radio 810 WHB

One week after the Kansas City Chiefs were able to limit the National Football League’s leader in rushing yards and touchdowns, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, to just 71 total rushing yards and zero touchdowns – only his second game of 2019 with no score – their run defense was right back in the hot seat.

This time, at the hands of a stellar showing from the Tennessee Titans’ 6’3”, 247-pound running back Derrick Henry who had the best statistical performance of his 2019 season in the Titans 35-32 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday with 188 rushing yards – the second-most of his career – on 23 carries and two scores.

And while the Chiefs were able to limit Henry throughout the first 30 minutes — 48 yards on 9 carries in the first half (5.3 yards per carry), he ultimately did what he does best: wear down the defense and wreak havoc in the second half, which is where the majority of his productivity came —  140 yards on 14 carries in the second half (10.0 yards per carry).

Most notably was Henry’s 68-yard highlight-reel run in which he put the fear of God in safety Juan Thornhill, blowing past him to turn the play into the touchdown that gave the Titans their first lead of the game in the third quarter. 

His second came midway through the fourth quarter, a 1-yard run facing just 10 Chiefs defenders (?) to put the Titans within a field goal of Kansas City’s dwindling lead.

The worst part in all of this is that this kind of performance was to be expected from Henry and the Chiefs knew there was a chance he could – and would – deliver one like it. They’ve seen it before. Three times, to be exact. In the Titans now four-straight wins over Kansas City, dating back to 2014, Henry has made a measurable impact in the three he’s played in since entering the league in 2016. 

So, let’s walk down memory lane and go back to that first time Henry played the Chiefs his rookie season in 2016.

You might just see some similarities between those games and Sunday’s… 

It may have been winter in Kansas City when the Titans traveled to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs in a Week 15 December game, but the Titans brought the heat — beating the Chiefs in a close, come from behind 19-17 victory.

In that game, Henry only rushed for 58 yards on nine attempts but scored Tennesee’s only two touchdowns that day — including a crucial 1-yard rushing touchdown with just over three minutes remaining in the game to get the Titans within one point of the Chiefs. 

Much like Henry’s 1-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth-quarter with 6:30 on the clock Sunday, in which he took advantage of Kansas City’s defensive mistakenly having just 10 men on the field (not that that would’ve necessarily helped), Henry had a straight shot to the end zone rushing touchdown in 2016.

On 1st and goal, Henry takes the handoff from QB Marcus Mariotta and runs it in in a similar fashion, which can be seen below.

The Titans offensive line does a great job holding up the Chiefs defense, while safety Eric Berry’s failure to read the block by fullback Jalston Fowler gave Henry an open lane straight into the end zone.

Titans kicker Ryan Succop ultimately sealed the deal by knocking home a 53-yard field goal as the clock ran out to push Tennessee ahead to their 19-17 victory. 

Next up, 2017. A game many (read: all) Chiefs fans would rather soon forget – if they haven’t already. 

It was the postseason AFC Wild Card game at Arrowhead and the result, as the name suggests, was a bit of a wild card in and of itself. Kansas City, backed by the loudest fans in the NFL, had managed to hold the Titans to just three points throughout the entire first half and most of the third quarter — a performance that was looking to soon become a victory if the Chiefs could close and seal it with a bow. 

But Tennessee, as you know, had other plans. 

Trailing 21-3 after the half, the Titans went off in the third and fourth quarters. 19 unanswered points, including a 35-yard rushing touchdown from none other than Derrick Henry.

Again, much like his 68-yard touchdown run Sunday, Henry uses his strength, speed, and patience on his 35-yard scoring play here to cuts inside, avoid pressure and finally break a tackle before running straight into the end zone.

The play helped propel Tennessee to a jawdropping 22-21 victory in Arrowhead that kept their playoff hopes alive while squashing those of Kansas City and Chiefs fans everywhere. Henry finished the game with 156 rushing yards on 23 attempts in addition to his game-altering touchdown.

While the future of this cursed matchup for the Chiefs is uncertain, here’s what we do know: Derrick Henry answers when the game needs him most and no lead is great enough for Kansas City when playing Tennessee, even with Patrick Mahomes on the field.