NASHVILLE (WIVB) – Titans running back Derrick Henry had never rushed for more than 78 yards against the Bills, until Monday night when he almost doubled that.
Coming into this game, Henry had faced the Bills three times and in those games had a combined 191 rushing yards and three touchdowns. And he matched that touchdown total this time around in 2021 as he rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ 34-31 win over the Bills.
“Once he gets through that front line it’s hard to bring him down and he got through it a few times and from there the guy’s huge, the guy’s fast, you just gotta find a way to get him down,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said after the game.
In the past, the meetings the Bills had done a good job of containing Henry and limiting his production and damage not to mention the Bills run defense had been solid so far this season. Coming into the game they were ranked third in stopping the run allowing just over 78 rushing yards per game.
“We preach all the time make a team one dimensional, if they have success running the football that opens up the play action game and pass game so we gotta be better stopping the run, stopping the run and making them one dimensional, make them put the ball in the air and then we go out and make plays. But when a team can do both obviously a team like that with a back like that it’ll be hard to stop them so we gotta do better,” Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said after the game.
The Bills defense got off to a strong start forcing the Titans to punt on their first two drives then coming up with a turnover on their third possession as Jordan Poyer intercepted Ryan Tannehill as he was looking for Julio Jones. But after that Tennessee scored on every one of their next drives (except for the end of the first half where Titans head coach Mike Vrabel let the clock run out as they had all three timeouts with 40 seconds left).
“At the end of the day we didn’t play well enough on defense to win that football game. We’ll go tomorrow, watch the tape and learn from our mistakes. That was a good football team that we lost to but at the end of the day we just didn’t play well enough to win,” Poyer said.
Henry got things rolling for Tennessee’s offense by finding a hole and taking it 76-yards to the house for the game’s first touchdown to put the Titans up 7-6 in the second quarter. But after that, the Bills kept Henry out of the end zone until the second half, where he did most of his damage.
“We know the game of football is for four quarters so I mean you can’t just play good the first quarter, first half or whatever it is and think the game was over with. It’s a four quarter game, I mean you gotta bring that intensity each quarter, play in, play out and we just gotta be better. Coming out second half we was getting gashed on and we just gotta be better,” Edmunds explained.
With 3:05 left in the game, Henry bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown with what ended up being the game winning score as that put the Titans up 34-31. And was also dangerous and effective even when he didn’t have the ball in his hands.
“Some of it we were sucking up on the play action a little bit there with the play fake and it opens up the middle and that’s where they’ve got good receivers and that’s what 22 does to you. He makes you commit to the run so we could have done some other things too as well and we’ll look at it as coaches,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said following the game.
The bad news is now they have to sit on this for a little bit as they have the bye week coming up. But the good news is after the break the Bills have a soft schedule with Miami on Halloween then the Jaguars and Jets the following two weeks. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things they need to clean up after a week off.
“I know the guys we’ve got in the room, nobody got their heads down. Obviously we’re hurt but obviously we know the areas we’ve gotta get better at and I’ve got full confidence in them and I know that we’ll come back, bounce back and we’ll get better in those areas,” Edmunds said.