Tennessee Titans’ running back Derrick Henry is again having a great season, picking up 783 yards and 10 touchdowns on 162 rushing attempts through his first six games, plus 16 receptions for 138 yards. But in his seventh game of this season Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Henry did something unusual; he passed for a touchdown. With the Titans in first and goal from the Chiefs’ five, quarterback Ryan Tannehill lined up under center like normal, but then split out left to set up a direct snap to Henry. That usually winds up being a rushing play, and Henry took a few steps forward like he was going to run, but then instead threw a pass to open tight end MyCole Pruitt at the back of the end zone:
🚨Derrick Henry touchdown PASS🚨 pic.twitter.com/ZtOZRixm15
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 24, 2021
That’s a beautiful play by the Titans. An advantage of this over lining up Tannehill out wide to start the play (or even replacing him with another receiver) is that the Chiefs have to respect pass or run to start, then they have to quickly adjust to a run focus once Tannehill splits out wide and it’s clear the snap is going to Henry, and they’re then thrown off again when it still turns out to be a pass. They weren’t able to make that adjustment in time to cover Pruitt (#85 above, celebrating with Henry after the play), and Henry (#22) did well to get the ball right to him.
This isn’t completely unprecedented by Henry. Prior to this game, he’d thrown three passes in NFL regular season play, all in the 2018 season. Two of those were completed, one for a first down. But he hasn’t exactly thrown a lot of passes, so it’s not something the Chiefs were expecting. And now the 6’3”, 247-pound Henry has a passing touchdown to go with his 65 career rushing touchdowns, and he’s given teams one more thing to worry about when defending him.