Sports

Breaking down Derrick Henry’s historic 2,000-yard rushing season for Titans

Derrick Henry needed 223 rushing yards in Week 17 to hit the 2,000-yard mark for the season. No problem — the Titans star ran for 250.

That made Henry the eighth running back in NFL history to hit 2,000 yards on the ground in a single season. Henry finished Sunday with 34 carries for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Thanks to Henry’s monster day, Tennessee clinched the AFC South title with a 41-38 win over the Colts.

For the second-straight year, Henry claimed the NFL rushing crown, and he’s now part of a legendary eight-player list, too.

MORE: Titans win gives Dolphins No. 3 pick in 2021 NFL Draft

How many running backs have had 2,000 yards in NFL history?

Henry is the eighth running back in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards in a season. Here’s the whole list, sorted by yardage total:

  • Eric Dickerson (1984) - 2,105
  • Adrian Peterson (2012) - 2,097
  • Jamal Lewis (2003) - 2,066
  • Barry Sanders (1997) - 2,053
  • Derrick Henry (2020) - 2,027
  • Terrell Davis (1998) - 2,008
  • Chris Johnson (2009) - 2,006
  • O.J. Simpson (1973) - 2,003

Henry joined Johnson as Titans representatives on the 2,000-yard list, making Tennessee the only team with two players on the list, and Johnson gave a shoutout on Twitter on Sunday.

Exceeding expectations

While none of the other 2,000-yard rushing seasons had the NFL’s Next Gen Stats to provide statistical gems, Henry’s did, and he dominated the league in one particular category. 

In 2020, Henry led running backs in “yards over expected” with a +412 total. He compiled a +211 against the Texans alone, more than all but four running backs compiled all season. 

Derrick Henry career-highs across the board

Henry had a high-end rushing season in 2019, putting together the strong finish he had in 2018 across a whole slate of games. That resulted in 1,540 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground, both league bests.

In 2020, though, Henry went above and beyond even his own accomplishments. He set career-highs in carries (378), rushing yards (2,027), rushing TDs (17) along with receptions (19).

Finishing strong

The conventional wisdom about Henry is that his 6-3, 247-pound frame gets stronger as the season goes on and defenders are worn down. That was the case in 2020, as Henry closed with 710 yards across his final four games to surpass the 2K mark.

In those final four games, Henry averaged 6.6 yards per carry and rushed for five touchdowns. Henry’s 227 rushing yards in Week 17 were the most in a finale to top 2,000 yards out of any of the eight players on the list. Only Simpson also ran for at least 200 yards in the final game of the season to reach the milestone. 

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