These days, it does not matter where the game is played. Home or away, Derrick Henry always seems to find a way to dominate and move up on one of the many record boards his name is on.
The Tennessee Titans running back did that again Sunday in a 45-26 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. He ran 27 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns. It was his eighth consecutive road game with 100 rushing yards or more, which ties former Titans running back Chris Johnson for the second longest streak since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Only Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders has a longer streak of 100-yard road performances, 10 from 1996 to 1997.
Henry took none of the credit. He focused on the collective effort of the offense, particularly the offensive line.
“They did a great job today opening up holes, driving the guy back in front of them, playing well collectively,” he said postgame. “I just had to go out there and get my job done. It’s definitely a lot easier, I appreciate those guys and we have to keep carrying this momentum forward to next week.”
By halftime, the fifth-year running back had already amassed 140 rushing yards and had surpassed 5,000 for his career. He is the fourth running back in Oilers/Titans history to join the 5,000-yard club. Earl Campbell, Eddie George and Johnson are the others.
The touchdowns came just as fast as the yards did. Henry scored his first on the Titans’ opening drive. Henry had five carries for 42 yards on the 10-play, 75-yard march. His touchdown was a 12-yard scamper on a sweep pass play behind the line of scrimmage.
Henry’s second score came on the Titans’ eight-play, 65-yard drive midway through the second quarter. He accounted for 17 yards on four carries, scoring a one-yard touchdown on a run off the right side.
Roughly five minutes later, he scored his third on an 11-yard run. On that nine-play, 86-yard drive, Henry had five carries for 59 yards, including his longest run of the day -- 31 yards -- to start the drive.
Henry now has 12 touchdowns on the season. The only other running back with more is Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who has 13 for the season. Henry is the first running back in franchise history since Earl Campbell (1978-1981) to rush for at least 10 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons
“It’s always fun when we’re clicking and clicking early,” Henry said. “Being able to make plays and move the ball down field, everybody was doing their job and it’s always fun when you’re able to start fast and end the game with a ‘W.’ I always give my guys credit, the guys in front of me blocking.”
Due to coronavirus-related reasons, the Colts entered Sunday’s matchup without a few key defensive players, including star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who notoriously disrupts plays on the interior. The Colts, though, owned the NFL’s third best rushing defense ahead of the matchup.
Henry is the only player with 100 rushing yards or more against the Colts since 2018. He has done it three times, including twice the season and once last season. In a 34-17 loss 17 days ago, Henry totaled 103 rushing yards, and in Week 13 of 2019, he gashed the Colts for 149 yards in a 31-17 victory.
“It sucks. We have to stop the run,” Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said. “That’s the main thing. When you play against a team like this, you’re playing against a back like that, you want to stop the run. In the first half we didn’t do that.”
On the season, the 2019 rushing leader leads the league with 1,257 yards on 256 carries, which has him in position to become the first player to win consecutive rushing titles since Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson did it in 2006 and 2007.
Henry has rushed for 100 yards or more in seven games this season, including in four of his last five. Dating back to last season, he has rushed for at least 100 yards in 14 of his last 20 contests.
Right now, though, Henry has his eyes on winning football games. The rest will take care of itself.
“As long as we’re playing well as an offense and helping the team win games by doing our part, we give ourselves the best chance to win the game,” Henry said. “As far as offense, once we’re clicking, everybody doing what they need to do, beating the man in front of them, finishing, focusing on getting into the endzone, we give ourselves the best chance to win.”