The Tennessee Titans are an anomaly because they kept on winning without their dominant weapon.
More than half of their snaps involved reigning Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry because he’s an unstoppable force.
It’s hard for one man to tackle him, especially when he unleashes his disruptive stiff arm.
Happy anniversary to the Derrick Henry bodying Josh Norman via stiff arm 👊🏿💥 pic.twitter.com/6snTxnhKqq
— Preston Penn (@TheRealPres10) October 13, 2021
Despite his absence, the Titans kept finding ways to win and grab the top spot of the AFC playoffs race.
However, nothing is permanent in the NFL, and Henry’s absence will eventually haunt them.
That dreaded day finally came against a team that is not talented enough to stop Tennessee’s good fortunes on paper.
The Texans Defeated Themselves
The Houston Texans deserv some credit in slaying the Titans.
It was like a David versus Goliath matchup between a team that lost eight straight games and a juggernaut that won six consecutive games.
But there’s also an argument about the Titans shooting themselves in the foot.
NFL is outta control.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 21, 2021
Tennessee gained 420 total yards while the Texans only had 190.
A discrepancy like that often results in a victory by the dominant side.
However, the Titans couldn’t convert plays when it mattered most.
Either the Texans would pull out a stop, or Tennessee would commit a blunder.
The Tennessee Titans are injured to hell and back. They are about to break the record for most players dressed in a season in the NFL. Field conditions are atrocious due to constant downpour.
With this being considered… lol you're getting killed by the Texans.
— Schlasser (@UrinatingTree) November 21, 2021
The Titans were also too late the hero because the Texans were already up 19-0 before they scored.
Had Henry been around, he would likely have over 100 rushing yards and multiple touchdowns.
No one on the Texans could deal with him alone, and Ryan Tannehill could consistently hand off the ball to him.
Instead, Tannehill is also part of the blame for those four interceptions.
Tennessee’s Defense Took A Break
The Titans’ defense became elite during Henry’s absence.
As long as their offense put up enough points on the board, the defense ensured that their opponents scored less than their output.
That unconventional winning formula enabled them to win two straight games without their All-Pro running back.
They had two interceptions against the Los Angeles Rams, while Jeffery Simmons had three of their five sacks.
Tennessee Titans today pic.twitter.com/s0i3fylj9B
— Kc Takeover (7-4) 😮💨😵💫 (@KcTakeover) November 21, 2021
Against the New Orleans, Simmons had two of their four sacks, while the Saints only had two from Marcus Davenport.
But in Week 11 against the Texans, the Titans regressed to being the team’s weak link.
They did not have any sacks or interceptions against Taylor, signifying the lack of pressure applied to the Texans’ offense.
When the team bleeds for every point, the Titans’ defense must return to their dominant form in Weeks 9 and 10.
Titans Cannot Afford Another Letdown
Houston’s win provided a template on how to defeat the AFC leaders.
Therefore, the Titans cannot afford to be complacent during their six remaining regular-season games.
They may have some cushion of victories that will evaporate if they continue to show the same effort they did against the Texans.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on his assessment of the Titans after their loss to the Texans, where Tennessee had 5 turnovers.
"That's not what they do, I don't think we'll get that…"
Credits the physicality of the Titans along with the talent of RBs and WRs pic.twitter.com/R2HJ6KXVWB
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) November 22, 2021
Luckily, Tennessee has a chance to get payback against Houston in Week 18.
They will also go up against teams with solid defensive units like the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots.
Therefore, their remaining schedule should remind the Titans that taking care of the ball will always give them a fighting chance.