- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 11, 2020

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens knew the challenge Derrick Henry presented. They were aware of his video-game-like body. They studied the way the Tennessee Titans running back uses his 6-foot-3, 247-pound frame to truck through defenders.

But for all the hours spent on how to stop him, Baltimore couldn’t do it.

Henry bullied the Ravens throughout Tennessee’s 28-12 win Saturday — with the running back even leaping to throw a 3-yard touchdown pass from under center in the third quarter — to eliminate Baltimore from the playoffs.

Henry ran for 195 yards on 30 carries, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt a week after he powered through the New England Patriots.

If the NFL regular season belonged to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, then this postseason has been all about Henry.

Jackson, meanwhile, couldn’t replicate the same type of success that caused him to be the runaway favorite for this season’s MVP.

The 23-year-old’s stats — 365 yards passing, 143 rushing — were strong, but the Titans picked off the quarterback twice and also forced a fumble.

Earlier in the week, Jackson had stressed the importance of starting fast. A year ago, the then-rookie was ineffective for three quarters in his playoff debut against the Los Angeles Chargers before he found his rhythm in the fourth quarter, only to come up short. That loss, he said, taught him to “attack” no matter the quarter.

But on Saturday, the Ravens again struggled from the beginning of the game — though it wasn’t for a lack of urgency.

In the first quarter, Jackson ripped a pass that was too high and ultimately was tipped by tight end Mark Andrews, falling into the hands of Titans safety Kevin Byard. Tennessee marched down the field and found the end zone when tight end Jonnu Smith hauled in a remarkable one-handed grab.

Later, the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield — but Jackson’s dive came up short. On the very next play, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill took a shot deep down the field and found a wide-open Kalif Raymond for a 45-yard touchdown.

Raymond had beaten two defenders and the Ravens were stunned, down 14-0.

Though Baltimore trailed only 14-6 at halftime, Tennessee dominated the third quarter. Henry powered his way through the line of scrimmage to break free for 66 yards, paving the way for an astonishing trick play from the Titans.

Three yards from the end zone, the Titans trotted out backup quarterback Marcus Mariota and motioned him out to the side, making Henry the signal-caller in a wildcat formation. Rather than run it, however, the running back shoveled a pass to wide receiver Corey Davis.

The play stunned the Ravens‘ crowd. On Baltimore’s next possession, Jackson fumbled and the Titans recovered. Six plays later, Tannehill ran into the end zone to make it 28-6.

After Tannehill’s score, droves of Baltimore fans headed for the exits — with still three minutes left in the third.

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