You can just call Derrick Henry the master of overtime. The Tennessee Titans running back made NFL history during a Week 11 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that had postseason implications for both teams.
Tom Brady may have 38 fourth-quarter comebacks to his name, but Henry is the man who rules the “fifth” quarter.
Derrick Henry has been building up to this
Derrick Henry signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Tennessee Titans just before the start of training camp and seems intent upon earning every cent of the deal by the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The contract was the reward for increasingly dominant performances since the Titans selected him with the 45th pick of the 2016 draft. Tennessee already had DeMarco Murray, the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year as a Dallas Cowboy, but the Titans saw Henry as an investment in their future.
Henry rushed for 490 and then 744 yards in two seasons as a backup, but Murray’s production began to drop noticeably in 2017. A knee injury that kept him out of the season’s final game proved to be the end for Murray in Nashville.
Henry responded with 1,059 yards on an impressive 4.9 yards a carry in 2018. The following season would be his contract year, meaning Henry was expected to produce even more. He did not disappoint.
Henry rushed 303 times for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns – all league highs – last fall. His last few efforts in a drive to get Tennessee to the playoffs were especially impressive: 896 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Titans won five out of six to cruise into the postseason with momentum.
Henry’s exceptional work extended into the playoffs with 34 carries for 182 yards against the New England Patriots and 30 attempts for 195 yards vs. the Baltimore Ravens. The season ended with a collapse after a quick start against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Still, Henry had established himself as a star and earned his second contract.
The 2020 NFL season has been more of the same
Derrick Henry has picked up in 2020 right where he left off last season. The former Alabama Crimson Tide standout opened the season with 116 rushing yards and a season-high three receptions as the Tennessee Titans beat the Denver Broncos, 16-14. He also put up a 100-yard day vs. the Minnesota Vikings two weeks later.
Henry made every Week 5 highlights show with a stiff arm that pulverized Buffalo Bills defender Josh Norman during an otherwise ordinary day. He followed five days later by carrying 22 times for 219 yards and scoring the winning touchdown in overtime against the Houston Texans to get the Titans to 5-0.
Tennessee then experienced a swoon with losses in three of the next four games. But the Titans and Henry rallied Nov. 22 with a 30-24 victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
That game improved Tennessee to 7-3 and dropped Baltimore to 6-4. With the playoff picture starting to take shape. Tennessee is running stride-for-stride with the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South heading into their Week 12 clash.
Meanwhile, almost no running back can claim to be keeping stride with Henry. He has 1,079 rushing yards to lead Dalvin Cook (1,069) of the Minnesota Vikings. No one else has reached 800 yards thus far.
Derrick Henry makes NFL history
The Tennessee Titans have had their share of nail-biters this season with six victories coming by seven points or less. Two of those wins have come in overtime.
On Oct. 18, Henry took a direct snap from center and plowed into the end zone from five yards out to beat the Houston Texans, 42-36. The TD salvaged a victory after Houston had tied with four seconds to play in regulation.
The Titans struggled with the Baltimore Ravens for most of the Week 11 battle and trailed 21-10 in the third quarter. They took a lead on a Ryan Tannehill scoring pass with 2:18 to play only to see Baltimore tie on a field goal with :15 left in regulation.
However, overtime became Henry time once again. Henry scored on a 29-yard burst midway through the extra period for a 30-24 triumph. He finished with 28 carries for 133 yards to reach the century mark for the sixth time this season.
According to the league, Henry also made NFL history by becoming the first player to rush for overtime touchdowns twice in the same season.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.