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Titans' Derrick Henry: Running the ball key in playoffs

Derrick Henry's scorching end to the 2019 regular-season campaign captured the Tennessee Titans' running back the rushing title with 1,540 yards on the year.

The rumbling running back believes he can bulldoze over opponents to the promised land in Miami.

"I think in the playoffs you have to be able to run the ball to get to the Super Bowl," Henry said, via the team's official website. "I think running the ball effectively is the key to winning games in the playoffs."

Henry has been on a wicked tear down the stretch -- coinciding with Ryan Tannehill jumpstarting an offense that powered the Titans to the playoffs.

Henry generated a ridiculous 896 rush yards and 10 rush TD over his last six games played (since Week 10). How crazy has that run been? He would rank 18th in rush yards and tied for 6th in rush TDs if those were the only games he played this season.

"I think we are really just locked in, so we are focused on what we need to do," Henry said. "We know what type of game this is, we know who we are playing, so we are trying to be focused on each aspect of the game.

"I'm happy to be in the playoffs. It's a good opponent, it will be a hostile environment. It's playoff football."

Notably, Henry wasn't listed on the Titans injury report Wednesday after dealing with a hamstring injury for weeks.

Saturday's opponent is the perennial AFC champion New England Patriots, who boast the No. 1 defense in yards, scoring, third down, and yards per play allowed.

In an interesting twist given Henry's comments about needing to run the ball to have success in the playoffs, the NFL's rushing leaders haven't always fared well in the postseason against top-ranked Ds.

Since 1970, the rushing champion is 2-3 in playoffs versus the No. 1 scoring defense. The last such game: Adrian Peterson (23 carries, 45 rush yards) and the Vikings lost to the Seahawks in the 2015 Wild Card round. The last RB to win such a game was Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2007 Divisional Round at the Colts. Terrell Davis (199 rush yards vs. MIA in 1998 Divisional Round win) is the only one of the previous five such RBs with 100-plus rush yards in the game.

Since the 1970 merger, the NFL rushing champion is 0-3 in the playoffs versus the No. 1 total defense (none of the three RBs had 80-plus rush yards in the game).

All-time, there have been just five instances of the rushing champion reaching the Super Bowl that season (4-1 in the Super Bowl): Shaun Alexander in 2005 (Seattle lost Super Bowl XL to Pittsburgh); HOF Terrell Davis in 1998 (Denver won Super Bowl XXXIII over Atlanta); HOF Emmitt Smith in 1992, 1993 and 1995 (Dallas won all three Super Bowls).

Henry has been plowing over defenses of late, and the Titans' big plays have slashed the scoreboard. With Bill Belichick's defense ranking second in big plays allowed, Tennessee will need Henry to churn out yards if the splash plays from Tannehill dry up Saturday in Foxborough.

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