JACKSONVILLE – When the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans square off on Monday Night Football, prepare yourself to see more of Derrick Henry than you thought possible.
A simple five-yard run that was negated by a penalty had them talking in Nashville and Buffalo this week. The play was that memorable – at least for the Titans.
When the teams met last season, Henry – the Titans' 250-pound running back – took a handoff and headed left, where he ran into then-Bills cornerback Josh Norman. Henry didn't run by him, or run him over. He threw him five yards backwards with a vicious stiff arm that made everyone stop and wait to see the replay.
"Best five-yard run in football history," Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel said with a sneaky smile.
That stiff arm, which went viral across social media, is perhaps the signature moment in Henry's career because it showcases the awesome power he brings to every single rushing attempt.
"It was exciting," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said when asked to recount the Tuesday Night Trucking, which took place on Tuesday Night Football because of COVID-19. "That type of play, especially happening on our sideline where our guys on the sideline can get juiced, definitely brought us a lot of energy."
Energy shouldn't be an issue on Monday with the bright lights of primetime eagerly awaiting the NFL's leading rusher coming off a 130-yard, three-touchdown performance in Jacksonville.
In Indianapolis, the Colts' defense is still working to get past blowing a 19-point second half lead in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore Monday.
The Colts' defense looked great in the first half – like the unit expected to solidify the team until the offense and new quarterback Carson Wentz found a rhythm. The Colts took away the Ravens' signature running game to end Baltimore's NFL-record streak of 43 consecutive 100-yard games, holding Baltimore to 86 yards rushing. In particular, they were dialed in on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who routinely looks like Houdini escaping the pocket.
However, Jackson completed 29 of 32 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters in large part because the Colts' talented and highly paid defensive front couldn't get to him.
"When the game was on the line, the defense didn't step up," Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard said. "That was really heartbreaking. We believe in this defense, and when you don't step up, and you don't win a game for the Colts organization as a defender, it sucks. That was definitely the worst one."
The Colts hope the reeling Houston Texans, who arrive with rookie quarterback Davis Mills on Sunday, will be an antidote to their troubles against the pass. Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, who has just one sack this season, knows this is his time. Buckner had 9.5 sacks last season, with five against Houston. The Texans on Sunday will be without starting tackles with Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon, both of whom are out with injuries.
"I feel like, at some points throughout the season, I'm maybe just thinking too much or things like that, but eventually I get started," Buckner said. "I think it's all of it, scheme and matchup. I haven't been playing to where I want to be playing on a personal level, and I feel like this is one of the games I could get started."
Owner Jim Irsay doesn't appear worried about his team's 1-4 start to a season in which the Colts faithful saw a playoff run and not just a playoff appearance.
"Colts Nation, don't you worry," Irsay Tweeted Tuesday. "We're gonna get The Horseshoe at least 2 Lombardis this decade…as sure as the sun rises and the seasons change, it's COMING. Don't you ever doubt that, EVER! YOU WILL SEE GREATNESS BELIEVE AND YOU WILL SEE."
In Houston, the Texans are standing behind quarterback Tyrod Taylor despite Mills' strong outing against the New England Patriots last Sunday. Mills made a nice rebound from the disastrous four-interception game in Buffalo with a 312-yard, three-touchdown performance.
"(When) Tyrod comes back and he's healthy, he's our starting quarterback," Texans Head Coach David Culley said. "When Tyrod is ready to go, whenever that is, we'll assess the situation, and we'll ultimately make the decision that we feel is best for our team. Tyrod had played well. He played really well, actually. So, things change and we'll take it one day at a time and then we'll make the decision we feel is best. We're not going to predetermine anything, not doing anything until we get to that position."
Still, Culley wasn't denying the remarkable one-game turnaround for his rookie quarterback who has had to learn on the fly and without key starters on the offensive line.
"In order for us to have a chance to win, that's how he has to play," Culley said. "He understood that. We had conversations all week about, 'Don't worry about what's happened in the past. We're going to have a game plan that's good for you.'"