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Hitchens: Chiefs to go low vs. Henry 'to kill the engine'

Derrick Henrymade history last weekend in leading the Titans to a massive upset win over the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens, and there's no hiding who powers Tennessee now.

The Chiefs have taken note and built their defensive plan for Sunday's AFC title game around dethroning the rushing king. The focus: attacking Henry with sound fundamentals.

"It's gonna take all of us tackling him and wrapping up," Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens said.

Stopping -- or at least tackling -- Henry is a weekly topic among Tennessee opponents in these playoffs. Last week, Ravens safety Earl Thomassaid it was a mindset thing, not being afraid to approach the hulking running back, adding he believed his defense was built differently. That didn't bear out in Henry's 195-yard performance, so it's time for the next opponent to try a new approach.

"You gotta just take his legs out -- we talked all week -- to kill the engine," Hitchens said. "Hit him in his thighs and his legs. Chop him down. If you tackle him high, he tends to carry you for about five more yards. Hit him low. All legal and within the game, but yeah, just hit him lower."

Henry finished second in the NFL this season in yards gained after a defender closed within one yard at 4.7 per attempt, per Next Gen Stats. That mark jumped to 5.5 yards per attempt in the postseason, an illustration that he's not going down easily in the games that matter most.

He also didn't go down easily when the two teams met in the regular season. Henry rolled up 188 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, including a 68-yard rumble for a score in Tennessee's stunning 35-32 win over Kansas City in Week 10.

Hitchens' approach is as old as the game itself: Chop down trees by attacking their base. It's just easier said than done, and leaves a defense vulnerable to being stiff-armed into the turf.

If one is going to attempt a low tackle, he must commit. There's no going low at 50 percent. Should the Chiefs make such a sacrifice, perhaps Kansas City will find itself celebrating an AFC title at Arrowhead Stadium. If not, expect another victory for the Henry-powered Titans.

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