By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Houston’s top ranked defense played to expectations and quarterback Brock Osweiler exceeded expectations as the Texans beat the Oakland Raiders 27-14, and advanced to the second round of the NFL playoffs.
All-Pro Jadeveon Clowney sent the Raiders an early message by intercepting a screen pass at the return put the ball at the 4 yard line where Lamar Miller ran around the left corner to give the Texans a 10-0 lead with 6:20 to go in the first quarter.
“Man, I was trying to score. That dude grabbed my foot. I tried to kick him but I couldn’t get away,” Clowney said. “I was looking for Vince (Wilfork) to pitch it to him. I would have liked to see the big man rumble into the end zone.”
“Clowney gave us a huge burst of energy,” offensive tackle Duane Brown said. “He gave us great field position and we were able to capitalize on it the next play. That was a huge jump for us and gave us a lot of momentum. Clowney is just a great athlete.”
In the second quarter, the Texans’ defense held the Raiders to just 24 total yards, 14 on one play, a 14-yard pass reception by Michael Crabtree. Quarterback Connor Cook was 1-7 for 14-yards in the quarter.
While the Raiders were struggling, the Texans extended their lead to 20-7, on a Nick Novak 38-yard Field goal, and a DeAndre Hopkins 2-yard touchdown pass reception.
The Texans’ defense was even better in the third quarter, allowing the Raiders only 15 total yards and two first downs. Whitney Mercilus had four tackles and two sacks in the quarter.
“I was able to read my keys. I was able to go out there and play fast without thinking,” Mercilus said. “We beat them all four quarters. The special teams were great and the offense was making huge plays when we needed them.”
In the fourth quarter, Osweiler scored on a 1-yard run to up the Texans’ lead to 27-7, with 12:28 to go in the game. The Raiders crept closer, scoring a touchdown with 8:10 to go, making the score 27-14. But Texans’ defensive back A.J. Bouye clinched the win with a last-minute interception.
“I had my eyes on the quarterback and I was able to seize the opportunity,” Bouye said. “This was a sweet win. Brock (Osweiler) had a great game and the fans were really into the game.”
Osweiler was 14-25 for 168 yards, but more importantly, he had no turnovers.
“I went into the game just wanting to have fun. To have a playoff game at home, in this atmosphere, was great. I was able to relax and just rip it,” Osweiler said. “I am very confident about next week, and I have confidence in this team. Look at what our defense did today. This was an ultimate team victory.”
Miller had 31 rushes for 73 yards, and Hopkins had five receptions for 67 yards.
“This was my first playoff game, and It feels good to get a playoff win,” Miller said.
For Oakland, Cook was 18-45 for 161 yards and three interceptions, and Murray had 12 carries for 39 yards. The Raiders were 0 for 11 on third down conversions during the first three quarters of the game, finishing at 2 for 16 for the game.
“Unbelievable team win. Whenever you win a playoff game, all three phases contributed to the win. This is probably the best game we have played all season,” Coach Bill O’Brien said. “Now we have to keep it going.”
The Texans travel to New England to take on the top-seeded Patriots on Saturday.