The Oakland Raiders took the field in Houston for their first postseason game since 2002 taking on the Texans in Saturday's Wild Card matchup.
With their rookie from Michigan State Connor Cook as their starting quarterback, head coach Jack Del Rio turned to his defense after winning the opening coin toss.
After the Raiders defense stepped up to force a Texans punt, it was Cook's turn to take the field to see if he could get off to a quick start. Unfortunately, the NFL's toughest defense allowed just two yards before the Raiders had to punt.
Following a poor punt by second-team All-Pro Marquette King that went just 31 yards, the Texans would start on the Raiders 40-yard line for their second drive. While the Raiders defense would hold again, the Texans would get close enough to to kick a 50-yard field to take the early 3-to-0 lead.
Things would only get uglier for the Raiders offense on their next drive as they faced a third-and-long. Cook dropped back and looked for his running back Latavius Murray on a screen play, but Texans defensive end Jadaveon Clowney made an athletic play to bat the ball up and make an athletic interception to give the Texans a short field. Running back Lamar Miller would punch it in from four yards out the next play to make it 10-to-0 early in the first quarter.
Cook and the Raiders offense would get their first first down on the ensuing drive with the young quarterback threw a dart to veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree for 19 yards. The Raiders drive would once again stall, forcing another Raiders punt.
Undrafted free agent rookie Jalen Richard has been a spark plug for the Raiders offense all season long and this time he did it on special teams, returning a Texans punt back 38 yards into Texans territory. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave went no-huddle with his young quarterback, who leaned on his running back Latavius Murray. Murray carried the ball four times for 31 yards, including the two-yard touchdown to make it 10-to-7.
But that was all the Raiders offense would be able to get as they struggled to move the ball against a Texans defense that has allowed just 301 yards per game.
A three-and-out with under three minutes to go in the first half would cost the Raiders, giving the ball back to Brock Osweiler and the Texans offense. Osweiler connected on back-to-back throws, finding DeAndre Hopkins on a fade route to give the Texans first-and-goal from the five-yard line. Just two plays later, the two would connect again on a two-yard slant for the touchdown to put the Texans up 20-to-7 at halftime.
Richard looked to give the Raiders offense more life in the second half, returning another punt back 17 yards to get his team back into Texans territory at their 49-yard line. But the Raiders still could not convert on third down, even when facing 3rd and three. Cook dropped back to pass and was sacked for 10-yard loss forcing another punt.
With the Raiders defense continuing to hold against the Texans offense, the Raiders could not find a way to extend the drive on third down. Facing 3rd and 10, Cook threw a nice ball to Amari Cooper down the left sideline who saw the ball go through his hands forcing another Raiders punt.
It looked as if the Raiders may have been able to convert their first third-down conversion late in the third quarter when Cook connected with Crabtree for a big catch, but the veteran receiver was called for offensive pass interference. Another false start penalty made it 3rd and 26, which they were unable to convert.
The ball would give the ball back to the Osweiler and the Texans another shot to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter, starting around midfield.
The big free agent signing found his rookie receiver Wil Fuller for 19 yards to get things going. He then looked for Hopkins in the end zone who drew a questionable pass interference penalty on cornerback David Amerson to give the team first-and-goal. Osweiler would capitalize on a play-action call to scamper right into the end zone to give them the 27-to-7 lead.
The former fourth-round pick Cook was finally able to get into rhythm on the next drive, thanks to converting the Raiders first third-down when he found tight end Mychal Rivera for 10 yards. With Crabtree out due to a possible concussion, Cook found a chemistry with his replacement Andre Holmes. Holmes came up big on a 20-yard catch before drawing a pass interference call on the next play, then capping off the drive with an eight-yard touchdown reception to make the score 27-to-14.
Del Rio's defense came up big, forcing another Texans three-and-out to give the Raiders the ball down just two scores with 6:27 left in the game.
Cook was able to get the offense moving again, going 31 yards before the stout Texans defense came up with a big play. Cook looked for Cooper deep down the field but threw it high and was intercepted by Houston Texans safety Corey Moore.
The Texans would use the added possession to run out much of the clock, giving the Raiders little hope with the ball back and just 2:06 remaining on the clock. With the Texans playing deep zone coverage, Cook was forced to throw the ball underneath with the clock running. With the clock winding down, Cook tried to make something happen but was intercepted again, ending the game and the Raiders magical season. Cook finished the game
Del Rio and the Raiders will now have to wait until next season for their quest for their first Super Bowl since 1984.null