Derrick Henry, dominant defense winning formula for Titans

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Running back Derrick Henry once again showed why he should be the train the Tennessee Titans ride to close out the regular season with another dominant performance in 17-0 win against the New York Giants. His 33 carries for 170 yards helped the Titans withstand the cold, rainy conditions at MetLife Stadium. Tennessee (8-6) controlled the game from the start with a power rushing attack.

After not clearing 100 rushing yards in any of the first 12 games this season, Henry had another 100-yard rushing total in the first half. He became only the third player in the past 15 seasons to have 125 or more first-half rushing yards in consecutive games. Running back Frank Gore accomplished the feat with the 49ers in 2006, and Adrian Peterson did the same in 2012 with the Vikings.

Henry followed up his franchise record-breaking 238-yard rushing performance against the Jaguars in Week 14 by helping the Titans deliver another physical pounding, this time against New York's defense. His 408 rushing yards the past two weeks broke Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell's franchise record for most yards in consecutive games.

"Earl Campbell, he's a beast. I got a chance to talk to him; he's a legend in my eyes," Henry said. "To be mentioned along his name is a dream come true. We focus on being efficient. I can feel us in our groove. The offensive line is getting a push, and I am efficient in the run game because of those guys."

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound back had 21 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown in the first half. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Henry's 21 first-half carries were the most in the first half since Cedric Benson had 22 carries for the Bengals against the Browns in 2009. Before Sunday, Henry's season high was 18 carries in a game.

"They stacked the box on us, and we blocked up the guys we could," said Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan. "Derrick did the rest. He's been a stud these last two games. I am very impressed with him as a football player."

Henry's two rushing touchdowns gave him 12 this season, which made him the first Titans running back to have 10 or more since former Tennessee speedster Chris Johnson did it in 2010. Henry's 11 touchdowns since Week 7 are the most in the NFL.

The defense balanced the equation by shutting out the Giants (5-9), the seventh time New York quarterback Eli Manning was shut out in his career. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dean Pees dialed up some timely blitzes from the secondary that resulted in sacks by safety Kevin Byard and cornerback Logan Ryan.

Byard also chipped in with his third interception of the season. Titans outside linebacker Kamalei Correa sacked Manning causing a fumble -- New York's second turnover of the game.

Tennessee kept dynamic rookie running back Saquon Barkley from becoming a factor, swarming to the football all game. The Titans held Barkley to minus-8 yards on three carries in the first quarter and he finished with 14 carries for 31 yards.

"We wanted to come in here and play physical football the whole game. I think we got after those guys, and you can see the frustration in his face," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "I still think he's one of the best backs in the league. You could see his ability, but containing and stopping No. 26 [Barkley] was the number one goal."

The convincing win was a stellar group effort in all phases. Woodyard called the game true complementary football. Punter Brett Kern was one of the most valuable players against the Giants, averaging 44 yards per punt and pinning New York deep in its own territory multiple times.

The Titans are firing on all cylinders with a physical style of play that is ideal for winning games on the road late in the season like they did Sunday. They have now won three straight and remained in contention for a playoff spot in the AFC, although they need keep winning and get help to get in. Their next game is at home on Saturday against the Washington Redskins.

"For us, it's just about focusing on each game," cornerback Adoree Jackson said. "We can't worry about the playoffs. It's one game at a time, one series, one snap. We have to lock in."