While he broke off a couple of solid runs, Derrick Henry finished the game with only two runs of 10 yards or more, with a long of 17, and he never really got into the secondary, something that the Pittsburgh Steelers were focused on preventing, even if the secondary was responsible for tackling him on two of his 20 attempts.
All in all, he had about eight or nine successful rushing attempts out of 20, with the vast majority of that coming late in the game, in small victories—including a one-yard leaping touchdown, which came two plays after being stuffed at the goal line.
He knows he didn’t have it easy. Entering the day, he had 588 rushing yards in five games. He was held to just 75 against the Steelers, averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and he had something like seven carries that gained no yards or lost yardage. He had just six carries of negative yardage in the first five weeks over 123 carries.
“They’ve just got a really good front”, Henry told reporters after the game. “They had momentum early. We couldn’t get anything going, and they have a big – just up in front, and they were just causing disruption as far as trying to make plays. They did a good job”.
Vince Williams was a frequent presence in his line of sight, the veteran in on six or seven tackles against the All-Pro back, most for run stops. T.J. Watt was in on four tackles on the big back, all run stop, and three for no positive yardage, with two for negative yardage.
“I think he was just stepping inside”, Henry said of the success that the first-team All-Pro defender had against him. “He’s a great player. He did a good job. They were making plays, and sometimes it happens like that in a game. But overall, we just have to be better”.
Henry did score a rushing touchdown for the fourth consecutive game, now with seven on the season, and that score put the Titans to within three points late in the game. There were certainly plays on which he looked like was imposing his will.
But quite simply, it wasn’t often. He only had six carries during the game that gained five or more yards, and two of those carries were no longer than six yards. This is, however, the fourth time this season he has been held to under four yards per carry. So much of his yards per carry is boosted by last week’s 212-yard game, capped off by a 94-yard run.
His longest run against Pittsburgh was decidedly shorter, by 77 yards. In fact, he gained fewer yards on 20 attempts in the entire game than he did on that one play. This was the Steelers’ toughest challenge of the season and they rose to the occasion. But the biggest challenge on the year is up next. ‘King’ Henry was just a warmup.