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Being head coach of the Titans means one thing for Mike Vrabel: feed Derrick Henry.
The strategy never seems to fail as we saw in the Titans’ 34-31 victory over the Bills on Monday night, a game defined by Henry bulldozing over Buffalo defenders. Henry also showed off his elite speed on his 76-yard score, clocking in at 21.8 mph, per NFL Next Gen Stats, the fastest any running back has reached this season. Oh, and Henry is 250 pounds doing this, proving he’s a throwback in the same vein of Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker.
The key to his freakish abilities? Henry said after the game that it’s simple.
“I’m from Florida,” Henry said. “Florida boys, it’s in the water. If you’re from Florida, you’ve got to have speed.”
The 27-year-old from Yulee, Florida was a one-man wrecking ball last night, turning 20 carries into 143 yards for three touchdowns. That includes the 13-yard scamper for six with three minutes left in the fourth quarter which would turn out to be the game-winning score. Vrabel said after the game that they will continue to ride Henry as the season goes on, as long as he can handle it.
“We continue to jump on Derrick’s back,” Vrabel said. “And he’s willing and able to carry us. It’s something that you know that you have in your back pocket, front pocket. We pull it out, and we use it.”
Henry’s impact was arguably seen on 4th and 1 at the goal line when the Bills were in striking distance of tying the game with a field goal. Bills head coach Sean McDermott had a chance to send kicker Tyler Bass for a chip shot but elected to send Josh Allen back out to try and win the game. Allen went for a quarterback sneak, which was blown up right away by defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
McDermott has taken a lot of flack for the decision, but with Henry running the way he was, did McDermott want to risk giving the ball back to Tennessee in overtime? There’s no way a gassed Bills defense would have wanted to tackle Henry in overtime with the game on the line. And that sums up what Henry brings, and it led to the Titans improving to 4-2 on the season, now first in the AFC South.
Henry is now on pace to rush for over 2,000 yards for the second consecutive season, a feat that no other running back has done in NFL history.