I’ve come to this startling conclusion: Derrick Henry does not like to blow his own horn. So after Tennessee finished its seven-day sweep of the 2020 AFC title teams (34-31 over Buffalo last Monday, 27-3 over KC Sunday), he wasn’t interested in talking about how great his Tebowesque TD throw that started the scoring against the Chiefs was. “Kinda similar to the pass I had in the playoffs against the Ravens in 2019,” he said from the Tennessee locker room. “Try to get the defense to suck up and do whatever . . . and it ended up in a touchdown.”
DERRICK HENRY THROWS A TD 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 24, 2021
First score of the game and, in fact, the winning score as it turned out. Henry did the old Tebow jump-pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt for a five-yard TD. It was a wobbler, but accurate and effective. On a day when Henry’s streak of five straight 100-yard rushing games ended (he rushed 29 times for 86 yards against a KC front determined to stop him), he still was integral because of the touchdown pass.
Henry is the offensive Aaron Donald, on his way to the Hall of Fame even though he’s still very much in mid-career. At 27, he is on his way to being the fifth player to lead the NFL in rushing three straight years. That has two asterisks: Jim Brown actually did it twice, and Brown actually did it five straight years at one point. Will Henry make it three straight this year? Obviously health is the biggest factor, but consider that Henry has a 290-yard lead for the title over the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor, 869 yards to 579. Plenty of season left, but you’ve got to think Henry’s got a pretty good chance at his third straight rushing title.
The amazing thing about Henry’s run is how he’s been in his average yards per game during the streak. Comparing Henry’s three-year run to those who have led the NFL in rushing for at least three straight years:
“As a running back,” he said, “I just gotta go out and do my job and hit the holes my teammates make for me. They’ve been fantastic. I give all my credit to them.”
Henry seemed honored to hear about the yards-per-game number, particular because of the Jim Brown connection. “I’ve seen clips of him growing up,” Henry said. “I think Jim Brown’s the heights. For my name to be mentioned with his, it’s an honor. A dream come true. Jim Brown was kind of like a superhero. So this is special, something you dream of as a kid.”
It’s within reach that Henry could be the most dominant rusher over a three-year span that there ever was—and what makes that all the more notable is the fact that we’re in an age of reduced rushing. Vastly reduced rushing. Good for the Titans that they recognize the value of traditional football and put it in the offensive game plan of a 5-2, division-leading team.