This one went about as expected. Perhaps not as many had hoped, but pretty much as expected. The Raiders needed the defense to step up and carry the load with Connor Cook getting his first career start against the Texans’ number one defense and that was too much to ask.
Taking the ball first, the Texans drove right down the field for into Raiders territory. The Raiders defense was able to stiffen up just out of easy field goal range to force a punt.
A big punt by Shane Lechler (he plays for the Texans) put the Raiders drive starting at their own 7-yard-line. A one yard run on first down, a tip at the line by Jadeveon Clowney, and a one yard Amari Cooper catch would have Marquette King punting out of his own end zone.
That punt was shanked out of bounds for 31 yards to put the Texans right near where their previous drive had ended. A couple plays put them in range of a 50-yard field goal and they scored the game’s first points to take a 3-0 lead.
Like déjà vu, Cook threw a screen to his left that was tipped by Clowney. This time, he tipped it to himself for the interception. Menelik Watson tacked on a roughing penalty for hitting Clowney on the ground and Texans took over in first and goal inside the 5-yard-line. Two plays later, Lamar Miller went out left for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, like out of another game entirely, the Raiders drove for a touchdown. It was aided by a 37-yard Jalen Richard punt return to the Houston 38.
Then it was almost all Latavius Murray who found a huge hole through left guard for 18 yards, then another hole on the right side for 6 and finished the drive with a 5-yard run and a two-yard touchdown run to pull to a 3-point deficit at 10-7.
The Texans would pull away from there, adding a field goal and driving for another touchdown late in the second quarter. The big play was DeAndre Hopkins getting behind David Amerson up the right sideline for a 38-yard catch to set up first and goal at the 3-yard-line. Two plays later, Osweiler found Hopkins on a quick pass inside for the score and a 20-7 lead heading into the half.
Cook was struggling mightily in his first ever NFL start. The Raiders hadn’t converted a third down and Cook was completing just 31% of his passes.
At one point the Raiders were 0-11 on third downs. They got their first third down conversion with 12:19 left in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard completion to Mychal Rivera.
Later in that drive, Cook had his first completion to a wide receiver in the second half on a 20-yard pass to Andre Holmes. Holmes would get a PI called on his defender to put the ball at the 8-yard-line and then catch the touchdown pass to pull the score to a 27-14 Texans lead with just over 8 minutes remaining.
The Raiders would get the ball back with 6:27 remaining. Three completions put the Raiders at midfield. In third and 10, Cook threw way too high for Amari Cooper and it was intercepted. With 4:42 remaining, down two scores, that interception would put the game out of reach for the Raiders.
The Raiders came into the game without Derek Carr and Donald Penn with both losses proving to be the death of them. Connor Cook was off target and Jadeveon Clowney was too much for Penn’s replacement Menelik Watson to handle.
During the game, the Raiders would lose Michael Crabtree to a concussion who left the game as the team’s leading receiver with just 2 catches for 33 yards. Andre Holmes would surpass that easily with 4 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
The game was officially over with Cook throwing his third interception to finish the game 18 of 45 for 161 yards and a QB rating of 30.0. Though he had three interceptions, there were several other instances in which the defender either dropped the ball or his receiver had to play defender to keep it from being intercepted.
The Raiders finished 2 of 16 on third down, exiting the playoffs with the 27-14 loss that wasn’t really even that close.