KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tennessee's 35-24 loss in the AFC Championship Game hit Derrick Henry with a thud as reality quickly sunk in that the Titans might take on a significantly different look next season.
After failing to stick to the same formula against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday that propelled the Titans to playoff wins in Baltimore and New England, Henry expressed disappointment in the outcome and said "he could have done more for the team."
"I'll definitely shed a couple of tears," said Henry, who finished with 19 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. "Just because I love my teammates. I love playing football, I love competing and I love my teammates. Those guys helped me get through a lot.''
The Titans have at least 19 players on expiring contracts this offseason. There will be some tough choices for Titans GM Jon Robinson to make. The first decisions probably will involve quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Henry himself, whose rookie contract is set to expire, possibly making him a free agent this offseason. After leading the league in rushing, it's safe to say he is in a position to land a lucrative contract from the Titans or another team in need of a bell-cow running back.
But for now, the frustration from losing and the idea of not having the same group of players take the field together next year was more important to him than any concerns about future contract negotiations.
"Throughout the whole season, you have to stick together through all the adversity," Henry said. "We have a lot of great guys in the locker room. It's football, you know the locker room is going to change. Right now, we just lost a game. I am not even thinking about no contracts or things like that. When that time comes, I am sure it will get worked out."
Henry, the NFL's leading rusher this season, was the catalyst for Tennessee's success on offense down the final stretch of the regular season, as the team won seven of its last 10 games. He proceeded to prove unstoppable in the first two games of the playoffs, picking up 182 yards rushing against the defending champion Patriots and 195 yards rushing in the divisional win over the Ravens.
But their bruising back had no carries in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, and the Titans couldn't finish off clinching their first trip to the Super Bowl in two decades.
"[I] feel like as a team we stayed relentless, kept believing in each other, and that speaks volumes to the character of everyone in that room as a football player, and we just came up short," Henry said. "That's a great team. Wish the outcome could have been different."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.