The Baltimore Ravens were the unstoppable squad in the NFL this year. With the #2 overall offense that outrushed everyone in the league by a full 60 yards per game combined with the #4 overall defense, they were the odds on favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for them, the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry had other plans.
The strategy deployed by head coach Mike Vrabel and company was really nothing new against a high octane offense led by a running QB. They played close to the line of scrimmage to take away rushing lanes, forced Lamar Jackson to beat them with his arm, and most importantly fed their own mutant running back to keep Jackson off the field. In the end, Henry had carried the ball 30 times for 195 yards, becoming the first NFL player to rush for 180 yards in three consecutive NFL games and also the only player to rush for 175 yards twice in the same postseason. As you’d likely expect, his 379 rushing yards is the most ever in any two-game NFL playoff span as well.
Ravens safety Earl Thomas had talked some smack before the game about how his team isn’t afraid to tackle Derrick like some others and, well...
Earl Thomas said the Ravens mindset is “a little different” than the Patriots.— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) January 12, 2020
Derrick Henry vs. Patriots:
34 rushes, 184 yds.
Derrick Henry vs. Ravens:
30 rushes, 195 yds.
Henry is a monster and @Earl_Thomas got exposed.
( : @Tucker_TnL) pic.twitter.com/nXvqdyR2Nu
"Good sh*t , Earl" - Derrick Henry to Earl Thomas pic.twitter.com/rA84lPamjZ— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 12, 2020
For good measure, Henry even threw for a score.
Several noted derisively that Henry and Jackson had the same number of passing touchdowns in the game.
King Henry has absolutely owned these playoffs thus far. The Titans defense played as well as it needed to, somehow managing to surrender only 12 points on 530 yards. They did a nice job in the red zone, allowing only one touchdown in four trips, and swiped the ball away three times. Rashaan Evans had six tackles manning the middle for the Titans.
Tennessee will be underdogs again next week, likely in Arrowhead Stadium, but the way these playoffs have gone perhaps Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans pull off an unlikely upset over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs today. Whoever the next opponent happens to be, the Titans have been carried into the AFC Championship Game on the back of one Derrick Henry, and they will live or die feeding him the football.