Sunday’s NFL: Henry, Titans rally past Texans 42-36 in OT, remain unbeaten
Nashville, Tenn. – Expectations for Derrick Henry already are pretty high, with his history of mighty stiff arms and long touchdown runs.
Last season’s rushing leader keeps finding new ways to top himself, taking the Tennessee Titans along with him yet again.
Henry took a direct snap and ran 5 yards for a touchdown 3:30 into overtime and the Titans remained undefeated, rallying to beat the Houston Texans 42-36 on Sunday.
“Obviously, we all witnessed somebody taking a game over,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry.
The Titans (5-0) finished with a franchise-record 601 yards of total offense. They also became the first team in NFL history to have a passer throw for more than 350 yards with Ryan Tannehill finishing with 364 yards passing and someone rush for at least 200 yards in the same game, according to the NFL.
That helped them overcome two turnovers, Stephen Gostkowski having a field goal blocked and missing another and the defense giving up 335 yards passing and four touchdown passes to Deshaun Watson.
Watson’s final TD pass put Houston (1-5) up 36-29 with 1:50 left, but his pass to Randall Cobb on the 2-point conversion attempt failed. Coach Romeo Crennel, in his second game since replacing the fired Bill O’Brien, said he went for the conversion in a bid to put the game out of reach. Crennel also didn’t take a timeout before the game-winning TD.
“That play was run in practice, and we should have been prepared,” Crennel said of the wildcat play.
Tannehill, who had three of his 19 career game-winning drives to start this season, drove the Titans 76 yards before finding A.J. Brown on a 7-yard TD pass with 4 seconds left. Gostkowski made the extra point, and the Texans fielded a squib kick to send it into overtime.
Henry ran for 202 yards in regulation, including a 94-yard TD run. In overtime, he took a screen pass 53 yards on the second play. He capped the six-play, 82-yard drive with his second TD of the game, finishing with 212 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving.
The Titans are 16-0 when Henry runs for at least 100 yards. Asked about his performance, Henry kept giving credit to his teammates.
“I just had to do my job,” Henry said more than once.
The Titans have their second-best start in franchise history since this franchise won its first 10 games in 2008. Their win, combined with Pittsburgh’s victory over Cleveland, sets up a showdown between the AFC’s last two undefeated teams here in a week.
Tannehill finished with four TD passes. He had seen Henry make huge plays before coming to Tennessee.
“He just has that rare size, strength and speed combination that it’s extremely rare,” Tannehill said.
The Texans (1-5) came in as the two-time defending AFC South champs and nearly gave Crennel a second straight victory.
“We did not finish the game on defense,” Texans star J.J. Watt said. “We had multiple opportunities and we didn’t do it. And as a leader of the defense, I put that squarely on my shoulders. So this one is very difficult to take.”
Tennessee led 21-10 at halftime. Houston safety Justin Reid blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Gostkowski, who later missed a 37-yarder wide left, in the third quarter to set up David Johnson’s 1-yard TD run.
The Titans lost left tackle Taylor Lewan to an injured knee on the next drive, and Watt sacked Tannehill two plays later, stripping him of the ball. Jacob Martin recovered for Houston at the Titans 4, and Watson found Randall Cobb at the right pylon for a 4-yard TD pass and a 23-21 lead.
That started a scoring spree.
Henry broke off a 94-yard TD run, racing to the other end zone in 14 seconds. Watson answered two plays later with a 53-yard TD pass to Will Fuller for a 30-29 lead with 8:37 left.
The Titans ended the shootout with a 601-412 advantage in total yards. The previous franchise record for yards from scrimmage was 583 by the Warren Moon-led Houston Oilers, also in overtime, against Dallas on Nov. 10, 1991.
More NFL games
►(At) Tampa Bay 38, Green Bay 10: Tom Brady (Michigan) outplayed Aaron Rodgers in a rare meeting between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
It was the 43-year-old Brady’s first signature victory since signing with the Bucs (4-2) after a historic 20-year run with the New England Patriots, which included nine NFL title game appearances and six championships.
He got his favorite target from his days with the Patriots into the mix, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 28-10 halftime lead. It was Gronkowski’s first TD since December 2018 and the 79th for the quarterback/tight end tandem – tied for fourth on the all-time list with Miami’s Dan Marino and Mark Clayton.
Brady also threw a 7-yard TD pass to rookie Tyler Johnson and Ronald Jones had a pair of rushing TDs for Tampa Bay, which got an even more impressive performance from its defense.
Rodgers threw two interceptions – Green Bay’s first turnovers of the season – within a three-pass span of the second quarter to turn a 10-0 Packers lead into a 14-10 deficit.
Green Bay (4-1) never recovered.
►(At) San Francisco 24, L.A. Rams 16: Jimmy Garoppolo threw three TD passes in the first half and Jason Verrett’s first interception in more than four years helped preserve the lead, giving the San Francisco 49ers a victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Garoppolo bounced back after a rough performance last week in a loss to Miami when he got pulled at halftime after struggling on a bum ankle to help the defending NFC champion 49ers (3-3) snap a two-game skid.
He staked the Niners to a 21-6 halftime lead over the Rams (4-2) by relying mostly on short passes and connecting on TDs with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
San Francisco’s defense stepped up with some key stops in the second half. Los Angeles got in the red zone on its first possession of the third quarter, but settled for a field goal after Andrew Whitworth committed a false start on third-and-1.
The Rams were in position to cut even more into the deficit before Dre Greenlaw stopped Darrell Henderson for a 1-yard loss on second-and-goal from the 1, Cooper Kupp dropped a pass in the end zone on third down and Verrett came up with the interception on fourth down.
Verrett has ended up on injured reserve in five of his six seasons in the NFL and played only 66 defensive snaps the past three years. But he has gotten back to his 2015 Pro Bowl level this season for the 49ers, helping fill the void created by an injury to Richard Sherman.
Verrett’s interception was part of a rough day overall for Goff, who also missed an open Kupp on a deep ball earlier in the second half. Goff went 19 for 38 for 198 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Garoppolo was unable to keep up his fast start to the game but still finished 23 for 33 for 268 yards.
►(At) Pittsburgh 38, Cleveland 7: James Conner ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers battered the Browns in a 38-7 blowout victory on Sunday to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1978. Ben Roethlisberger added 162 yards passing and a score.
Pittsburgh emphatically ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak and extended the Browns’ skid at Heinz Field to 17 and counting.
The Browns (4-2) were unable to get anything going against a defense that sacked aching Baker Mayfield four times, picked him off twice and chased him late in the third quarter with the game out of reach. The NFL’s top rushing offense managed 75 yards on the ground – 113 below its season average – as the Steelers dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage in easily their best performance in 2020.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick stepped in front of a Mayfield pass and raced 33 yards to the end zone for an early 10-0 lead. The Browns, off to the franchise’s best start since 1994, never really recovered in a stadium where they haven’t won since Mayfield was in elementary school.
►Baltimore 30, (at) Philadelphia 28: Lamar Jackson threw for a touchdown and ran for a score and the Ravens held on.
The Eagles (1-4-1) came in missing seven offensive starters, including four offensive linemen, and then lost two more when running back Miles Sanders left in the third quarter and tight end Zach Ertz exited in the fourth.
Still, the Ravens (5-1) needed to prevent a 2-point conversion with 1:55 remaining to secure the win. Carson Wentz was stopped by L.J. Fort and Matthew Judon trying to run it in. The Eagles wouldn’t have needed the conversion after Wentz sneaked in from the 1 if coach Doug Pederson kicked the extra point when they scored early in the third quarter to cut Baltimore’s deficit to 17-6.
Wentz tossed two TD passes, was sacked six times and managed to finish the game along with center Jason Kelce as Philadelphia’s only healthy starters.
Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, was efficient, passing for 186 yards. He ran for a 37-yard TD and had 108 yards on the ground.
►Denver 18, (at) New England 12: Brandon McManus kicked six field goals and linebacker Malik Reed came up with a big sack late in a game twice delayed following positive coronavirus tests for both teams.
Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for last week but got postponed twice, first by a day, then by seven. The delay was caused after multiple Patriots players tested positive for COVID-19, including quarterback Cam Newton and reigning Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
New England (2-3) rallied from an 18-3 deficit and nearly pulled off the comeback, but had three turnovers.
Drew Lock finished 10 of 24 for 189 yards in his first start since injuring his shoulder in Denver’s Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh. He was steady early, but had back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter to let the Patriots back into the game.
Denver’s defense entered the game with two takeaways on the season. It forced three on Sunday, coming up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. That underscored a rough day for New England, which was held to 288 yards.
It was the first game back for Newton, who returned after missing New England’s Week 4 loss at Kansas City. He finished 17 of 25 for 157 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 76 yards and a touchdown.
►Chicago 23, (at) Charlotte 16: Nick Foles (Michigan State) threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Chicago’s defense forced three turnovers and sacked Teddy Bridgewater four times.
Foles finished with 198 yards passing and a touchdown and David Montgomery added 58 yards on the ground as the Bears (5-1) opened the season 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2006, when they reached the Super Bowl.
Bridgewater was under duress most of the game. He was held to a season-low 216 yards passing and was intercepted twice.
Chicago improved to 2-1 with Foles as the starter. The 2018 Super Bowl MVP also rallied the Bears past the Falcons when coach Matt Nagy benched Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3.
The Panthers (3-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
►(At) N.Y. Giants 20, Washington 19: Joe Judge and the New York Giants have finally won, and they have rookie Tae Crowder and a risky gamble by Washington coach Ron Rivera for making them relevant again.
Crowder, the last player taken in the NFL draft – Mr. Irrelevant – scooped up a fumble and ran 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:28 to play.
The game wasn’t decided until Rivera rolled the dice after a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with 36 seconds left in regulation to cap a 10-play, 75-yard march.
Instead of playing for overtime, Rivera had Washington (1-5) go for the win with a 2-point conversion in an attempt to get back in the mediocre NFC East race. Allen found no one open, scrambled to his left and had his pass under pressure fall incomplete.
It gave the 38-year-old Judge his first win as an NFL coach and allowed the Giants (1-5) to avoid a second 0-6 start since 2013.
►(At) Indianapolis 31, Cincinnati 27: After trailing 21-0, Philip Rivers rallied the Colts with three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score on the first play of the fourth quarter. It equaled the largest comeback in the franchise’s regular-season history. None of the previous four came at home, and the last time Indianapolis (4-2) achieved the feat came in 2003 at Tampa Bay. Only a 28-point comeback in the 2013 playoffs against Kansas City was a larger margin.
It’s the fifth time the Bengals (1-4-1) have blown a 21-point lead in franchise history, their second-worst all time.
Rivers was sensational. He wound up 29 of 44 with 371 yards, one interception, and threw the go-ahead 14-yard score to Jack Doyle. Rodrigo Sanchez added a 40-yard field goal and Julian Blackmon picked off Joe Burrow with 39 seconds left to seal it.
Cincinnati, down 28-27, could have taken the lead with a 48-yard field goal with 8:02 to play, but Randy Bullock hit the right upright.
The on-time kickoff came as a relief in Indianapolis after Friday morning’s scare. Four people inside the Colts’ facility initially tested positive for COVID-19. Second tests performed on the four proved to be false positives.
►(At) Miami 24, N.Y. Jets 0: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and the Dolphins held the Jets without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter.
The game was so lopsided that Miami rookie Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in mop-up duty with 2:27 left. The Dolphins’ potential franchise quarterback ran onto the field to a big roar from the crowd of 10,772, and a grinning Fitzpatrick waved to encourage more cheers.
The Dolphins (3-3) reached .500 for the first time under second-year coach Brian Flores and moved into second place in the AFC East behind Buffalo. The Jets (0-6) became the NFL’s only winless team and continued their worst start since 1996, increasing the heat on embattled coach Adam Gase.
The Dolphins blanked the Jets for the first time since the January 1983 AFC championship game, which they won 14-0.