The Tennessee Titans began the season with a one-point loss to the New York Giants, followed by a 34-point drubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Since their 0-2 start, however, they’ve reeled off five consecutive wins (four of them by one score) and are on track to win the AFC South for the third straight season.
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One of the main reasons for the turnaround on the offensive side of the ball has been the play of running back Derrick Henry.
In Tennessee’s most recent win — Sunday’s 17-10 road victory against the Houston Texans — the 28-year-old workhouse amassed 219 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 32 carries. It was expected that Henry would be the focal point of the offense with rookie quarterback Malik Willis getting his first start in place of Ryan Tannehill who is recovering from an illness and an ankle sprain, and Henry delivered.
Best plays from @KingHenry_2's 219 rushing yard game 👑 #TENvsHOU
📺: More coverage on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/fYOP4NOtug
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 31, 2022
Following the game, Henry was interviewed on the field by CBS and asked about surpassing Titans legend Eddie George for the most total touchdowns in franchise history. Henry now has 75 scores (72 rushing, three receiving) in his career. With a cross nose ring and a cross drawn in eye black still visible under his left eye, Henry pointed first to his Savior, not to himself.
“God is good,” Henry said. “I’m blessed to play for this organization, the teammates I have, the sacrifices they make for me to have success, the coaching staff putting me in positions to have success, I’m just a kid from Yulee (Florida) with a dream to do something special and be great.”
"I don't know — something about when we come here, it's just a different juice."
– @KingHenry_2 on his FOURTH 200-YD GAME vs. Houston
👑 @Titans pic.twitter.com/d0geYlK9Zt
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) October 30, 2022
In his seventh year out of Alabama, Henry has already tied the record for the most 200-yard rushing games in an NFL career, with six. Four of those performances have come in his last four outings against the Texans.
“It’s a whole team effort, it’s not just me. I appreciate those guys,” Henry said when asked about his success against Houston. “I don’t know, there’s something about when we come here, it’s a different juice. But I’m very thankful and God is good.”
Not coincidentally, the Titans have posted a winning record all seven seasons Henry — whom they drafted in the second round in 2016 — has been in the league. After playing only eight games because of a broken foot last season, the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year is back to dominating opposing defenses in 2022. Henry is currently second in the league with 755 rushing yards and third in the league with seven rushing touchdowns.
Through all the success, the 2015 Heisman Trophy-winner and national champion has sought to keep his focus on the Lord. In a podcast he did in March with the Christian sports radio show “Faith on the Field,” Henry discussed why he paints a cross on his face in eye black before each game.
“I always feel connected to God,” Henry said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Man Upstairs. So me putting that cross on my face, that’s just an extra recognition to the Man Upstairs. I put God first in everything I do, and I wouldn’t be where I am without Him.”
Wake up thank the Lord & ask him for guidance . #Everyday
— Derrick Henry (@KingHenry_2) January 14, 2016
Henry, who has spoken about his faith before on social media, has used his platform as a football star to shine a light on Christ.
He took the opportunity after winning the Offensive Player of the Year to express his gratitude to the One who made it all possible.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God,” Henry said. “I also want to thank all of my teammates for all your hard work, all of you. I want to thank everyone in the entire Titans organization for giving me a chance and an opportunity at my dream. I am so thankful, so grateful for this opportunity.
“Yulee, stand up. Thank y’all again. God bless.”
During his Heisman acceptance speech after his 2015 season at Alabama, with the college football world watching, Henry spoke about the power of prayer.
“God is everything,” he said. “Always keep God first. Always pray. Don’t be afraid to pray; He’ll always hear your cry. If you have dreams, go chase ’em. If you believe it, you can achieve it. God will be there every step of the way. I’m a living testament, man.
” … I never thought I’d be up here, but, you know, God is good. I get on my hands and knees every night and pray. I’m thankful for everything. Keep God first, always pray and you’ll always chase your dream.”
If Tennessee keeps winning in 2022 and Henry keeps producing gaudy stat lines, another award may be headed his way, and along with it, another opportunity to praise God and point others to Him.
Next up for Henry and his Titans teammates is a Sunday night showdown on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs (5-2). The game is set for 8:20 p.m. ET.
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