As was the case a year earlier, Derrick Henry's tremendous performances on the ground could only take the 2020 Tennessee Titans so far in the playoffs.

Running back Henry was once again the star as the Titans returned to the postseason with an 11-5 record, their best since 2008 – also the last time they had won the AFC South.

But having come up short against eventual champions the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game, Tennessee fell at the first hurdle this time.

The Baltimore Ravens, still hurting from their shock defeat against Henry and Co the previous season, prevailed 20-13 in the Wild Card round.

So the Titans must regroup again ahead of the 2021 campaign, surely again looking to Henry to provide their spark while negotiating a challenging offseason.

The league's Offensive Player of the Year will certainly need some help, as our study with Stats Perform data shows.

Offense

It came as no surprise that the Titans ranked as high as second in rushing yards last season (168.1 per game) given Henry's incredible consistency.

There was not a rushing metric in which Henry did not lead the NFL, attempting 378 rushes, at 23.6 per game, for 2,027 yards (126.7 per game) and 17 touchdowns – league-high marks across the board.

Tennessee rushed on 50.5 per cent of plays – ranking third – and Henry carried the load almost single-handedly. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was next for total yardage with 266.

But the flaws in this approach were laid bare by the Ravens, who got to grips with Henry.

He was restricted to 18 attempts for just 40 yards. Only once in his NFL career – in a Week 17 win over Jacksonville in 2017 – had Henry previously averaged less than 2.2 yards with 18 rushes or more.

This reliance on Henry in their biggest games ultimately proved damaging, even as the rest of the offense also largely performed well.

Tannehill finished the year with a passer rating of 106.5 – fifth in the NFL – but he threw fewer passes (481) than any other QB to start 16 games, while the Titans were 23rd in net passing yards (228.3 per game).

Wide receivers A.J. Brown (70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 TDs) and Corey Davis (65 receptions for 984 yards and five TDs) each put up impressive career-best numbers, yet they ranked joint-32nd and joint-38th respectively for catches.

With the focus on Henry, their season stopped when he was slowed.

Defense

Even with Baltimore impressively handling Henry, a rare bad game might have been less of an issue had the defense been able to hold up.

Across the regular season, the Titans ranked 28th for opponent yards per game (398.3), including 277.4 net passing yards per game, 29th best in the league.

The franchise paid the price for some big free agency misses in the form of edge rushers Vic Beasley Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney, who signed one-year contracts worth a combined $22.2million and failed to contribute a single sack between them.

Clowney played eight games before he was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury, while Beasley showed up late to training camp and played just five times before he was released.

A defensive unit that shared a locker room with the best running back in the sport was at least slightly better at disrupting their opponents' ground game, but they still allowed 120.8 rushing yards per game (19th in the league).

As a result, too often Tennessee could not get their opponents off the field and put the ball in Henry's hands.

Opponents spent 31 minutes and 32 seconds in possession on average (27th in the league), while the Titans recorded only 19 sacks, ranking 30th.

Even on the rare occasions they did successfully put teams under pressure, the Titans were dead last in third-down stops. A massive 51.9 per cent of third downs against them were converted, including 42.6 per cent of attempts of six yards or more and 37.7 per cent of 10 yards or more.

Offseason

There is lots to do before the new season starts if the Titans are to be competitive again. Indeed, the scale of the task might well mean a Super Bowl run is beyond them in 2021, even with Henry a force once more.

Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith's departure to Atlanta, where he will be the Falcons' head coach, prompted the promotion of Todd Downing to a role he has served in for only one year previously, with the Raiders in 2017.

And he will have his work cut out if the Titans are to come close to maintaining last season's standard.

The team declined Davis' fifth-year option prior to his career-best year, making him an unrestricted free agent, while tight ends Jonnu Smith (eight TDs in 2020) and Anthony Firkser are also leaving. Slot receiver Adam Humphries, injured and expensive last year, will be less of a miss.

It means Brown is the only remaining Titan to have posted more than 200 receiving yards for the team in 2020.

On defense, meanwhile, the short-lived failures of Clowney and Beasley mean there is again a gaping hole at the edge position.

Tennessee have just $10.6m of cap room to work with and, although they at least still have their draft picks, some tough weeks and months lie ahead.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been crowned the NFL's MVP for a third time.

Rodgers was honoured during Saturday's awards – on the eve of Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – as he added to his 2011 and 2014 MVPs.

The 37-year-old is now level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Packers great Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three Most Valuable Player honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

The Packers fell short in the NFC Conference Game, beaten by Super Bowl finalists the Buccaneers, but Rodgers still enjoyed a memorable campaign.

Packers star Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent this season.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion during the 2010 season – featured in his first NFC title decider at Lambeau Field, but the Packers fell to Brady's Buccaneers 31-26.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald won the Defensive Player of the Year for a third time.

Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt had been tipped to win the award, but Donald maintained his dominance, having also reigned supreme in 2017 and 2018.

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski claimed the Coach of the Year award after leading the franchise to their first postseason victory in 25 years.

Not since the 1994 season had the Browns won a playoff matchup, until upstaging the Steelers before losing to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.

 

List of NFL Honors

Rookie of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert
Defensive Player of the Year: Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert
Offensive Player of the Year: Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Washington DE Chase Young
Comeback Player of the Year: Washington QB Alex Smith
Coach of the Year: Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski
Most Valuable Player: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Lamar Jackson ended his wait for a playoff win as he helped the Baltimore Ravens rally from an early deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 20-13 in the Wild Card round. 

Tennessee had won three of the previous four meetings between the teams – including a 28-12 triumph in the postseason last year – and looked on course to prevail again when they moved 10-0 ahead in the first quarter. 

Ryan Tannehill capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a touchdown pass to A.J. Brown that opened the scoring, with the Titans adding a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that came after a Jackson interception. 

However, the Ravens regrouped after a sluggish start and, crucially, shut down the threat of Titans running back Derrick Henry. 

A Justin Tucker field goal provided their first points before Jackson made amends for his earlier turnover with a stunning 48-yard touchdown run. 

J.K. Dobbins went in from close range to give Baltimore the lead for the first time and while a Gostkowski field goal cut the deficit to four points, the Titans were simply never able to get closer. 

Baltimore restricted Henry – the NFL's leading rusher in the 2020 season – to a mere 40 yards on 18 carries, while Tennessee managed only 12 first downs in total on offense. 

Tucker's second field goal of the contest opened up a seven-point cushion and the Ravens emphatically ended a late drive from their opponents when Marcus Peters intercepted a tipped Tannehill pass.


Turning point – Jackson shows his value

Baltimore's quarterback could no doubt feel the pressure when he was picked off early, considering his 0-2 career record in the postseason.

Yet Jackson displayed just why he is the reigning NFL MVP with his touchdown before half-time, the second-longest rushing score by a QB in playoff history. 

Henry stifled, Ravens run free 

'King' Henry had 2,027 yards in the regular season, including three games where he topped 200 yards or more, yet was completely locked up here. Such was his lack of impact, Tennessee opted not to even go for it in a fourth-and-short situation in the fourth quarter when trailing. 

In contrast, the Ravens had 236 yards on the ground as a team. Dobbins scored for the seventh game in a row but it was Jackson who contributed the most, going for 136 yards on 16 carries. 

What's next? 

The Ravens - who were 6-5 at one stage in early December - will wait to see where they travel next, depending on the result of the game between Pittsburgh and Cleveland later on Sunday. Still, they will face a daunting trip no matter what, either taking on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Buffalo Bills in the next round.  

As for Tennessee, there will be a horrible feeling of history repeating. They had won the AFC South for the first time since 2008 – a campaign that ended with a 13-10 defeat to Baltimore in the playoffs. 

Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a single season.

Henry achieved the milestone during the Titans' 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

He rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the win, which saw the Titans clinch the AFC South for the first time since 2008.

Henry joined Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Chris Johnson and O.J. Simpson in reaching the figure in a season.

Sam Sloman's 37-yard field goal with seconds remaining gave the Titans their win.

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