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Raiders Cook-ed as Texans march on in playoffs

Oakland’s third-string quarterback struggled all night in Houston.

Osweiler runs in for a touchdown.
Osweiler runs in for a touchdown.
Image: Eric Gay/AP/Press Association Images

BROCK OSWEILER THREW for one touchdown and ran for another Saturday to spark the Houston Texans over the Oakland Raiders 27-14 in the opening game of the NFL playoffs.

Houston advanced to a second-round American Conference matchup next weekend at either New England or Kansas City, the exact opponent and date to be determined by the result of Sunday’s Pittsburgh-Miami game.

The Detroit Lions were set to face the Seahawks in Seattle in a National Conference first-round playoff game later Saturday, the winner to meet either Dallas or Atlanta next weekend.

The Raiders, who managed their first winning campaign since 2002, were in their first playoff game since losing to Tampa Bay in that season’s Super Bowl.

Oakland rookie Connor Cook became the first quarterback to make his first NFL start in a playoff game, forced into the role after star Derek Carr suffered a broken leg and replacement Matt McGloin suffered a shoulder injury.

The Texans, who hadn’t won a playoff game in four years, had the fewest total season points of any playoff team since 2005, but their top-rated defensive unit was good enough to put them in the playoffs and provided an early spark after Houston’s Nick Novak kicked a 50-yard field goal to open the scoring.

On Oakland’s next possession, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney made his first NFL interception, tipping the ball twice before finally picking off a Cook pass and setting up the Texans at the Raiders 4-yard line.

On the next play, Lamar Miller ran around left end for a touchdown and Houston seized a 10-0 lead just 8:42 into the game.

The Raiders, who beat Houston 27-20 in a regular-season meeting, answered on a 2-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray but Novak added a 38-yard field goal to put the Texans ahead 13-7.

The Texans, who hadn’t won a playoff game in four years, had the fewest total season points of any playoff team since 2005, but their top-rated defensive unit was good enough to put them in the playoffs and provided an early spark after Houston’s Nick Novak kicked a 50-yard field goal to open the scoring.

On Oakland’s next possession, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney made his first NFL interception, tipping the ball twice before finally picking off a Cook pass and setting up the Texans at the Raiders 4-yard line.

On the next play, Lamar Miller ran around left end for a touchdown and Houston seized a 10-0 lead just 8:42 into the game.

Raiders Texans Football Source: Eric Gay

The Raiders, who beat Houston 27-20 in a regular-season meeting, answered on a 2-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray but Novak added a 38-yard field goal to put the Texans ahead 13-7.

Osweiler, who had been demoted but returned last week when replacement quarterback Tom Savage suffered a concussion, connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 80 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Texans a 20-7 half-time lead.

Houston entered the game 18-0 over the past three seasons when leading at half-time, 5-0 in the 2016 campaign, and stayed perfect with a solid second half.

What would have been a punt return touchdown for Houston late in the third quarter was wiped out by a penalty for running into the kicker against the Texans’ Whitney Mercilus.

But Houston eventually did take possession near midfield and drive into the end zone, a 17-yard pass interference penalty against Oakland cornerback David Amerson setting up Osweiler’s 1-yard touchdown run around right end.

The Raiders, who went 0-for-10 on third down conversion attempts over the first three quarters, responded with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown march, with Cook flipping an 8-yard scoring pass to Andre Holmes and Oakland pulling within 27-14 with 8:10 remaining.

The Raiders had the ball twice more but each possession ended with Cook throwing an interception, pickoffs by Corey Moore and A.J. Bouye ending Oakland’s final hope and keeping Houston in contention to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own home stadium.

(C) AFP 2017

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