Henry runs for two TDs as Titans hold off Panthers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have plenty to clean up with too many penalties and mistakes.
Fortunately, their rookie quarterback has a two-time NFL rushing champ in Derrick Henry.
Henry ran for two touchdowns and 76 yards, helping the Titans snap a three-game skid by beating the Carolina Panthers 17-10 on Sunday.
“He wants to impact the game," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry. "I know that, and we want to let him. Proud of him, the career that he’s had thus far (with) 9,000 yards. You know (we) need 10,000.”
Henry became the eighth running back in NFL history to run for at least 9,000 yards and at least 80 touchdowns before turning 30. He also moved past Corey Dillon and Jim Taylor for sole possession of 17th all time with now 84 rushing TDs for his career. He is one from tying Marshawn Lynch at No. 16.
“I grew up watching Marshawn, admired his game, the way he played,” Henry said. "Just a blessing to be able to get to that list and get to where I’m at. And just thankful for the people that help me.”
This was just the fourth game in Music City this season for the Titans (4-7), who played at home only once over the past seven weeks. Tennessee improved to 4-0 when playing at Nissan Stadium this season.
“It’s huge," Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. “It’s the NFL. Every win counts.”
Arden Key had a sack and forced fumble recovered by two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, who also had one of four sacks by Tennessee. Denico Autry had two, the second just two plays before the Titans forced the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs with 1:55 left to seal the victory.
Vrabel said give Carolina quarterback Bryce Young credit for scrambling around and keeping the Titans from containing him.
"Huge play there at the end to win it on defense,” Vrabel said of safety Amani Hooker's tackle of DJ Chark for no gain on fourth-and-6.
Rookie Will Levis threw for 185 yards and improved to 2-3 as a starter. He was sacked only once behind an offensive line featuring a pair of rookies with left tackle Jaelyn Duncan in his first NFL start beside left guard Peter Skoronski.
Carolina (1-10) started a three-game road swing by losing its fourth straight. The Panthers now are 0-6 on the road. First-year coach Frank Reich's job security already was in question with billionaire owner David Tepper. Reich said feeling sorry for themselves won't help.
“You think somebody’s gonna magically fix everything? No," Reich said.
"We lost a close football game today. These games are winnable. That message doesn’t fly when you’re 1-10 but I know these games are winnable, I know we have the players and the coaches to do that so we regroup and get ready for this week.”
Young threw for 194 yards. The No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft helped Carolina hold the ball for much of the second half, but the Panthers managed to cap only one possession with Chuba Hubbard’s 5-yard TD run to open the third quarter pulling within 17-10.
“We all feel it," Young said of the losing. "Obviously it’s difficult. We all don’t feel great. We just lean on each other in these moments. That’s really all we can do.”
Tennessee never trailed as Henry capped a 15-play, 91-yard drive that used up 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the first quarter with a 1-yard TD run.
The Panthers managed a 50-yard field goal from Eddy Pineiro. Key sacked Young and stripped him of the ball, which was recovered by Simmons. Henry converted the turnover into his second TD of the game, a 10-yard run.
Nick Folk put Tennessee up 17-3 at halftime with a 53-yard field goal.
Henry finished with 76 yards rushing, giving him 9,074 for his career making him the 38th in NFL history to reach that mark. Henry, who turns 30 in January, now is in even more exclusive company as the eighth with at least 9,000 yards and at least 80 rushing TDs. He joined Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk.
Panthers WR Laviska Shenault Jr. hurt an ankle, returned but couldn't finish. Starting LG Chandler Zavala hurt his right knee when rolled up from behind in the second quarter when both he and LB DJ Johnson (neck) went to the locker room. Zavala was seen on crutches after the game.
Panthers continue the road swing at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The Titans wrap up a two-game homestand by hosting Indianapolis on Sunday.
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