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Texans defensive front bottles up Henry, wreaks havoc on Levis | Week 15


Earlier in the week heading into a crucial road game against the Tennessee Titans, DeMeco Ryans knew how they would have to attack Derrick Henry – seal the edges and force him up the middle into the teeth of the Texans defensive line. 

That plan was executed to near perfection on Sunday as the Texans held the veteran back to just nine yards on 16 carries, averaging 0.6 yards per carry. 

"With the run defense, I feel like with the D-Line again the way that they were penetrating, the way they were playing on their line of scrimmage, it really stifled their run game," Ryans said. "We had a ton of tackles for loss, we were in the backfield a ton. When your're able to do that, it kind of takes them out of the run game." 

This is the seventh-lowest rushing yards for Henry in a game over 116 games in his NFL career. In 2016, the Texans also held Henry to just nine yards in a 27-20 victory and in 2017, the Texans held him to just seven yards rushing in a 57-14 win. Both of those came in Houston. 

Henry entered the game having rushed for 1,018 yards and 10 scores in the previous five games against the Texans. The Titans back had rushed for more than 200 yards in four of those five meetings. 

The Titans other main back, Tyjae Spears was limited to just 30 yards. Meaning the Texans defense held the two Tennessee workhorses to a combined 39 yards on 25 carries. 

"It was just a combination of the ends and the defensive tackles working together," Khalil Davis said. "If the defensive ends set the edge then the defensive tackles can go make plays. So, that's what we did today." 

Along with Henry, Ryans knew they had to contain rookie quarterback Will Levis, who he commended for his "physicality" when he ran the ball. The Texans front collapsed the pocket on Levis multiple times.

View the best photos from the Week 15 matchup between the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.

In the end, Levis was dropped for seven sacks by the Texans defense. 

"Really proud of the D-Line because that's where it starts," Ryans said. "The way that they were able to get pressure on Levis and the way our safeties and corners played on the backend it was awesome defense by everybody." 

Jonathan Greenard led the crew with 2.5 sacks, putting him at 12.5 for the season, and chipped in six tackles as well. 

"We just had to be the best and not mess up as much and capitalize on opportunities," Greenard said. "I think that's the main thing we did whenever we got an opportunity we seized the moment and set ourselves up to get a dub." 

Maliek Collins chipped in another 1.5 sacks to put him at five for the year. Desmond King II had one sack, and led the team with 11 tackles, while Derek Barnett and Davis also recorded a sack apiece. 

"Really we just took advantage of the gameplan," Davis, who also had four tackles, said. "We knew in the pass game we were going to get one-on-ones and we won on our one-on-ones. I know every team is going to try me in the run game, so I just stepped up and made the plays I needed to make."

Linebacker Denzel Perryman also recorded double digit tackles with 10 and fellow linebacker Christian Harris finished with eight tackles. 

"I don't know how I could put into words how good our D-Line and linebackers played today," Jalen Pitre said. "I don't know what they ate today. They need to let me know whatever they did last night because they were balling. It made my job real easy." 

Ryans gave props to the entire defensive front at the end of the day. 

"For me it's all four guys, I can't single out one guy on the defensive line because it was everybody making plays," Ryans said. "It's all about four guys rushing together and that's what they did. Multiple guys got sacks because they rushed together as a unit." 

Overall, the Texans defense stifled the Titans offense and held them to just 204 total yards, 66 of those rushing yards, racked up 12 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, six pass deflections and forced a turnover. 

"Defense played really great today, got after the quarterback," Ryans said. "Got after the quarterback, kept down the explosive plays, held them in the run game. All day, the defense was playing really good football."

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