'Let's take it 99 yards': Inside Derrick Henry's historic touchdown run

(Editor's note: This story was originally published in September 2019.)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry made history the last time he faced the Jacksonville Jaguars. His 99-yard run tied him with former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett for the longest run in NFL history.

It seems like Henry saves his best for the Jaguars. It's not a personal thing; he likes going against Jacksonville's defense because he feels it has elite players.

"You just get amped up playing against those guys. Anytime you get a chance to play against them; you have to bring your A-game," Henry said.

He did just that in Week 14 last season, setting a franchise record with 238 rushing yards. Included was Henry's 99-yard run in the second quarter, which was one for the ages.

The setup

The Titans were clinging to a 7-2 lead, but the Jaguars had driven down to the Titans' 1-yard line. On fourth down, Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans stopped running back Leonard Fournette for no gain, giving the Titans the ball back on downs.

Henry: "Thanks to Rashaan getting that stop, I was able to have that big play. We definitely feed off of each other."

Evans: "That was what you call a one-two punch. It was the true definition of one. I made that play, and [Henry] capitalized literally right after that."

Titans announcer Mike Keith: "Evans made the play on fourth down. You felt the energy go back into the stadium and the Titans while the energy left the Jaguars. When you have a big fourth-down play that fails and you're behind, there's always that feeling that something can happen. Somebody in the booth said, 'It would be great if he [Henry] just took it all the way right now.'"

Inside the huddle

Then-offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur: "I remember thinking right before that, you’re in a backed-up situation, that’s never comforting for a playcaller or our players."

Quarterback Marcus Mariota: "The play had the option to be a run by Henry or a quarterback sneak. It was one of those deals where it was built into the call. Matt did a good job of giving us an option."

Henry: "We were talking about where we were on the field and how far we had to go. Everybody was like, 'Let's take it 99 yards!' Marcus came in and made a playcall but he audibled it and called a run. It’s so crazy, because before when we were in the huddle, they were like, ‘You got to break a 99-yard.'"

Tight end MyCole Pruitt: "Someone was like, 'We might as well just go 99 yards.' Everybody was like, 'Hell yeah, let's do it!' We broke the huddle with that mentality."

How it happened: Stiff-arms all around

Henry: "My main focus is to get positive yards. I told myself to just be patient and let it open up. I am just getting out of the end zone and get a positive play. Finish forward."

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell: "I was very close to making [the tackle] before he got out of there. I thought I had a chance to make it. I swept at his foot and I wish I had tried to be more physical through the guard. ... I wish I had kept being physical and tried to put him on top of the running back and went over the top, which I’ve done before, but hindsight is 20-20."

Henry: "I was patient and it opened up on the left side so I hit it one-on-one with the corner or the DB. I gave him a stiff-arm. I couldn't let him take me down."

Keith: "When Henry broke it to the open field, I see [Jaguars cornerback A.J.] Bouye there. He's a good tackler. I figured Bouye would get him out of bounds, but he fights off Bouye. Then he gets to midfield and [Leon] Jacobs was there. Jacobs is a big dude so I'm thinking at the very least he's going to get Henry out of bounds. But Henry just keeps going."

Henry: "I got down the field and as I was stiff-arming [Bouye], it gave the linebacker [Jacobs] a chance to catch up. I was already going and couldn't let him take me down so I gave him a stiff-arm and brought him to the ground. It's funny because Corey [Davis] -- like he always does -- was right beside me trying to block. I was about to stiff-arm him but I saw he wasn't a defender. Then Myles Jack came up and I was able to give him a stiff-arm. The rest was history."

Titans receiver Corey Davis: "He was about to stiff-arm me! Derrick was in attack mode. I could have done more but I was just amazed at what he was doing. I ran down the field, didn't do much. I just got in their [Jaguars] way."

Titans radio analyst Dave McGinnis: "When the pursuit started coming at him, you could tell they were not really interested in going up top against a big back like that. He stiff-armed two of them to the ground and you could just tell the life had been taken out of their defense."

Jaguars LB Myles Jack: "I just remember hitting my gap and went to go tackle Derrick. He got past a couple of people and I wanted to go tackle him and I just remember trying to grab his shoulder pad and my hand literally -- I don’t know if it was God or I just wasn’t meant to tackle him, it was the weirdest thing ever. My hand just slipped off. ... I’m going to be on NFL Network for life for that. I already know. My kids are going to see me getting stiff-armed. My grandkids. It’s tough."

Titans tight end Jonnu Smith: "I went down [injured] on that play. ... I remember going down and I heard the crowd screaming. I was wondering if it was a fumble recovery, is it a turnover? ... Mind you, I was just holding my knee and Coach came up to me saying we just went 99 yards. I was like, 'What!' I felt a little better after that."

Titans coach Mike Vrabel: "He just ran out of guys to stiff-arm."

Keith: "I was trying to make sure he didn't step out of bounds and make sure there's not a penalty. As an announcer, you don't want to get people's hopes up only to have them dashed. You're trying to make sure that you're really seeing what you're seeing. It becomes even more spectacular after the fact because you realize you've seen history."

Time to party

Titans reporter Amie Wells: "The sideline was bananas. It's cool to see guys celebrating for other guys, but a lot of times it's the offense that's really excited when an offensive play happens and the defense is excited when a defensive play happens. That entire bench exploded."

Mariota: "I was speechless. I had a front-row seat to it, so it was pretty awesome. ... To be honest with you, it looked like it got bottled up and then he found his way out of it. Once that guy gets in the open field, he's so hard to bring down. It's a treat to watch."

Pruitt: "We got to the end zone and it was hype. We were just celebrating. I never seen or been a part of a run like that. I saw something close, I played with Adrian Peterson, but this was 99 yards."

LaFleur: "When he ripped that run, it brings so much energy to the football team and gives the guys a lot of confidence. To me, that was the turning point in that game. ... It got blocked up pretty well but he also made like seven guys miss on the play, and then he outran everybody."

Henry: "Everybody was just going crazy. I’m trying to hit helmets with everybody, dap everybody up. It was a crazy play. Us as a whole, we executed that. I gave the ball to my girl so she could hold it. I’m definitely going to keep mine. When I see Tony [Dorsett] again, you know, I got to spend a lot of time with him when I was at the Heisman. You know, he’s a legend. It’s cool to be in that company with Tony."

ESPN Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.