BALTIMORE – The Tennessee Titans fear no one. Not even the NFL’s best team.
Why should they with Derrick Henry running – and even throwing – the ball, and a big-play defense making clutch stops and turnovers?
One week after dominating defending Super Bowl champion New England, Henry gained 195 yards rushing and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass in a 28-12 victory over the Ravens. Baltimore (14-3) had won its last 12 games with quarterback Lamar Jackson setting records and looking unstoppable.
On Saturday night it was Henry who was unstoppable.
Plus, Tennessee’s defense had two interceptions of Jackson, who also lost a fumble, and the Titans (11-7) twice stopped Baltimore on fourth-and-1.
Henry’s jump-pass to Corey Davis displayed another of his skills. He has completed three throws in four attempts in his career.
But it’s the way he plows over and through opponents that makes Henry – and the Titans – dangerous. Next week, they will go after their second Super Bowl trip and first since the 2000 season, either at Kansas City or Houston. The last sixth seed to get to the big game was Green Bay in the 2010 season; the Packers won it all.
Tennessee scored all of its points off takeaways or fourth-down stops.
Ryan Tannehill’s throws to Jonnu Smith and Kalif Raymond, who missed the last two games in concussion protocol, gave Tennessee a 14-point edge.
Tennessee’s first score came after tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens’ top receiver this season, mistimed his leap and had Jackson’s pass deflect into the air. Safety Kevin Byard was there to pick it off.
Byard scooted 31 yards down the left side, and with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Jackson added, the Titans were at the Baltimore 35. The hushed crowd then saw five straight Titans runs to the 4 before Earl Thomas came free untouched for an 8-yard sack.
Tennessee shrugged and Smith made a juggling catch in the left corner of the end zone. Replay determined he landed barely in bounds for a 7-0 lead.
A fourth-down stop with less than a yard to go – the first time in nine tries all season the Ravens failed on fourth-and-1 – set up Tennessee’s next touchdown. Tannehill made it 14-0 with his gorgeous long pass that floated over Raymond’s shoulder into his arms behind All-Pro defensive back Marcus Peters. The folks in the stands dressed in purple, who hadn’t seen their team in such a deep hole since the end of September, had gone silent.
They did wake up for Baltimore’s 12-play, second-quarter drive that included a 30-yard completion to rookie Marquise Brown on third down. But the drive netted only Jason Tucker’s 49-yard field goal.
Brown again was instrumental on a late 91-yard drive to Tucker’s 22-yarder as he made a spectacular one-handed grab of a 38-yard pass, also on third down. Getting within one score in a half in which they were generally outplayed gave the Ravens little boost, though.
Henry’s 66-yard romp on third-and-1 led to his passing TD on a direct snap in the third quarter, followed one play later by Jurrell Casey forcing Jackson’s fumble, recovered by rookie Jeffery Simmons. Tannehill’s 1-yard run made it 28-6.
Henry’s TD pass was the first by a running back in the playoffs since 1987, when Allen Rice of Minnesota managed it.
Henry is the first player with two games of 175 rushing yards or more in the same postseason. He has set the postseason single-game rushing record for the Titans in consecutive weeks.
He also has the most yards rushing through his first four postseason games, coming in with 366 and is at 561, beating Hall of Famer Terrell Davis and Arian Foster, who were tied with 515 through their first four.
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