NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Under center at the 1-yard line, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota checked out of a quarterback sneak, and Derrick Henry did the rest — as much with his arms as his legs.
The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry sped and stiff-armed his way to a record-tying 99-yard touchdown run , and Tennessee routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 on Thursday night to stay in the playoff chase.
Henry matched Tony Dorsett’s 99-yarder on Jan. 3, 1983, for Dallas against Minnesota for the longest TD run in NFL history. Henry ran to his left and went up the sideline, stiff-arming cornerback A.J. Bouye, then rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs twice and finally shoving linebacker Myles Jack to finish off the second of his four TDs.
“Once I got in the open field on that 99-yard run, it was going to take all of them,” Henry said. “I definitely wasn’t going to go down easy, so I definitely wanted to use my stiff-arm to my advantage, and it worked.”
The Titans talked before the possession about going 99 yards, so left tackle Taylor Lewan was a bit surprised to hear the call for a quarterback sneak.
“I was like, ‘That ain’t going to get us 99 yards, boys,'” Lewan said. “But it was checked, so it was cool.”
The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner celebrated by striking the Heisman pose not once, but twice. Dorsett didn’t keep the ball from his run, but Henry said he’d definitely keep his.
“He’s a legend,” Henry said of his fellow Heisman winner. “It’s cool to be in that company with Tony Dorsett.”
Henry set a franchise record with 238 yards on 16 carries, topping the previous mark of 228 yards set by Chris Johnson in 2009 against, yes, the Jaguars.
Johnson called Henry’s 99-yarder “amazing” and congratulated Henry on the team record.
Henry tied Lorenzo White and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell for most rushing TDs in a single game in franchise history. Henry also became the first player in the NFL with four rushing TDs in a game since Jonas Gray of the Patriots in Week 11 in 2014.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel called Henry’s night “very impressive.”
“He just ran out of guys to stiff-arm,” Vrabel said.
With the rout and second win in a row, the Titans (7-6) stayed in AFC playoff contention with their fourth straight victory over their oldest division rival. They’ve won six of their last seven against Jacksonville.
The Jaguars (4-9) have lost eight of their last nine, and coach Doug Marrone said he was “heavily disappointed.”
“Obviously, we had a difficult time on first, second and third (downs), and sometimes in the fourth tackling (Henry),” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He had, obviously, a career night.”
Mariota, wearing black tape on the back of his right hand, threw for 162 yards. The Titans outgained the Jaguars 426-255, and they also had four sacks.
Jacksonville came in with the league’s fifth-best scoring defense after shutting out Andrew Luck for the first time in the NFL. But Jacksonville has been susceptible against the run, ranked 16th by giving up 108.4 yards. Henry nearly matched that on his record-tying run.
“For the rest of his life, I’ll be on his highlights,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said about Henry.
The record-tying TD capped a huge swing over two plays.
Titans rookie Cameron Batson muffed the punt at the Titans 7 before recovering at the 1 and being tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Jaguars took the ensuing free kick and drove downfield, where they picked up a fourth-and-1 at the Titans 5. Then the Titans stopped the Jaguars on the next four plays, the last with rookie linebacker Rashaan Evans tripping up Leonard Fournette.
On the very next play, Henry started toward the middle before turning left for a TD run where he simply couldn’t be stopped. Henry had 129 yards on six carries with two TDs by halftime to become the Titans’ first 100-yard rusher this season. Before his night ended, he added TD runs of 16 and 54 yards .
The Titans running back has three TDs of 70 yards or more rushing since 2017, the most in the NFL. Fournette, who has two such TDs, is the only other player with more than one in that span. According to the NFL, no player in the Super Bowl era had rushed for 200 or more yards and four or more TDs on 20 or fewer carries.
Lewan hurt his left arm or shoulder midway through the third quarter. When he got up, he yelled at the Jaguars’ sideline before going to the medical tent, but he returned. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith hurt a knee on Henry’s 99-yard TD run. He was down on the field for a few minutes before being helped off the field and straight to the locker room. He did not return. Receiver Tajae Sharpe hurt an ankle, and right tackle Jack Conklin hurt a knee did not return.
Jacobs hurt a quadriceps muscle and did not return. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus left with an illness.
Jaguars: Host Washington in Jacksonville’s home finale.
Titans: Visit Giants on Dec. 16.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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