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Ravens' Judon: Stopping Derrick Henry 'starts with us'

The New England Patriots got bulldozed by Derrick Henry, getting blasted from the playoffs by the behemoth running back. The Baltimore Ravens have designs not to suffer the same fate.

But how does one tackle a speeding bus, determined to leave tire marks up your back?

It's the riddle the Ravens must solve Saturday night.

Joining NFL Network's Good Morning Football Wednesday, Baltimore linebacker Matthew Judon said slowing Henry is about getting to the RB before he can get up to speed.

"Start fast. We want to hit him as many times as possible," Judon said. "We know he's a good running back, but it all starts with us. Our communication, our assignment, and our technique. As long as we do that, we're going to be able to attack him in different ways that he hasn't seen this year. We understand that he's one of the best running backs in the league, and we can't sleep on him because once he gets started he's a hard tackle."

Henry rushed for 182 yards in the Titans' win over New England last weekend, the most rush yards against the Patriots in the playoffs in the Bill Belichick era. While the Pats seemed content to play 2-high safeties much of the game to shut off the pass and gamble Henry couldn't beat their front all game (a gambit that failed), don't expect a similar approach from an aggressive Baltimore team.

"Guys didn't seem like they were too interested in tackling him," safety Earl Thomas said of the Patriots, via the Ravens' official team website. "So, our mindset is a little different. We're going to try to swarm and we'll see how it plays out."

During the 2019 season, Henry led the NFL in rush yards (1,540), carries (303) and tied for first in rushing TDs (16). The 6-foot-3, 247-pound back has churned out an average of 154.0 rushing yards since Week 10 (including playoffs).

Henry is a freight train, rumbling down the tracks. Let him get up to speed, and the running back is liable to iron you to the turf. The RB is at his best when he can gain the edge, turn upfield, get all his momentum going and treat defensive backs like tiny fruit flies keen to be smushed.

Ravens corner Marlon Humphrey knows setting the edge by defensive backs will be key.

"I really think it's going to take all 11," Humphrey said. "He's 6-foot-3, and he has really elite speed also. He can run people over here and there all the time, but if he gets to the edge, he can really outrun you."

Henry not only can spark a big play, he grinds defenses down and takes advantage later. The Titans RB has 1,073 rushing yards in the second halves of games this season (including playoffs). That is the most second-half rushing yards in a season since 1998, when Falcons' Jamal Anderson (1,222) and Broncos Terrell Davis (1,074) each had more and led their teams to Super Bowl XXXIII.

The Ravens enter with one of the best run defenses in the NFL, ranking fifth, allowing 93.4 yards per game. Henry, however, has pounded even good run Ds this season. In six games against top-10 run defenses (including playoffs), Henry has averaged 111.5 rushing yards on 21.5 carries, 5.2 carries per pop, and averaged a TD per tilt.

Baltimore knows Henry is the engine of the Titans' offense. Keeping him in first- and second-gear all game could determine who moves on to the AFC Championship Game.

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