The Tennessee Titans, with help from a record-breaking rushing performance from Derrick Henry, beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9.
Going into last night’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans were coming off an unconvincing home victory over the New York Jets. At 6-6 and needing to potentially win out to threaten for a playoff spot, the Titans couldn’t sleepwalk against a division rival on a short week. They certainly did no such thing.
The Titans offense started the game with the ball and made an immediate statement. The offense used 10 plays and 5:30 to go 73 yards and open up a quick 7-0 lead. QB Marcus Mariota completed four passes, including three to RB Dion Lewis for a total of 36 yards. After a 29-yard catch-and-run by Lewis, RB Derrick Henry came in to spell him and took his first touch 14 yards to the Jaguars’ 5-yard line. He then followed up a 2-yard carry with a 3-yard end zone plunge where he just drove forward and was met with no resistance.
Tennessee’s next offensive drive caused a bit of concern, as it ended with a turnover. Mariota rolled out to his left and targeted a wide-open WR Tajae Sharpe, but his throw simply sailed on him. It was an ominous play, as his previous completion was a severely wobbly pass. His interception was of the same ilk, and it was clear that he wasn’t on his best game and would struggle for most of the night. Thankfully, he didn’t need to do much.
Following the pick, it all began to go wrong for the Titans, and it seemed like things were bound to start snowballing. A three-and-out by the Jaguars turned into two points when fill-in returner Cameron Batson muffed the punt and tried to dance around in his own end zone. He was tackled before he could make it out and the Jaguars got two cheap points. The Jaguars got the ball back and moved down the field slowly and methodically, converting a 4th and 1 from the Titans’ 5-yard line in the process. Faced with a 1st and goal from the 3 against a run-oriented team, the Titans knew what to expect and stuffed RB Leonard Fournette three times in four plays, turning the Jaguars over on downs.
Feeding off of the energy the Titans defense exuded on the goal-line stand, Henry went nuclear on the ensuing play. He took a handoff up the middle, bounced to his left and ran into a bevy of open space. He took CB A.J. Bouye head-on, eliminating him from the play with a vicious stiff arm and out-sprinting him past the outside. LB Leon Jacobs tracked down the play from the weak side and it looked like he would bring the play to an end, but Henry kept his distance with a strong arm and then shoved Jacobs to the ground in true Beast Mode fashion. Henry used one more stiff arm on LB Myles Jack for good measure and strolled into the end zone for what is tied for the longest rushing touchdown in NFL history. It truly needed to be seen to be believed.
The Titans ended up tacking on a field goal before the second quarter and went into halftime up 16-2 and in full control of the game.
The second half began with a Jaguars three-and-out, followed by yet another Henry rushing touchdown. Three Mariota completions for 10+ yards each and a Mariota scramble of 12 yards set the Titans up with a 1st and 10 at the Jaguars’ 16-yard line. Henry took the handoff up the middle, used a couple of easy cuts and bowled his way into the end zone for his third score of the night.
On the ensuing drive, DT Jurrell Casey and OLB Sharif Finch converged on Jaguars QB Cody Kessler, knocking him down and jarring the ball loose in the process. Finch recovered the fumble and once again set the Titans up in good position. As he did all night, Henry took advantage and wrecked the Jaguars defense. He saw no space inside, so he quickly bounced his run to the outside, where he easily beat the defense to the edge due to CB Jalen Ramsey collapsing way too far inside. Henry then just out-ran everyone to pay dirt with his speed.
The Jaguars would get a cheap touchdown on the next drive, but the game was finished with. Henry got a chance to get a fifth, historic score, but he was stuffed on a 3rd and goal carry from the 2 with 6:52 remaining in the game. Henry racked up 238 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries, good for a 14.0 yards per carry average. It’s safe to say that he broke some records.
The Titans ended up winning 30-9 and now own a 7-6 record. They are in the thick of the AFC playoff race, but there is still a lot of football left to be played. They will travel to MetLife Stadium next week to take on the 4-8 New York Giants.