Well, the Oakland Raiders finally made it to the playoffs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they were without quarterback Derek Carr. Remember him? He’s the player that led all those comebacks this year. He’s the one that made up for a defense that couldn’t hang on to a lead. Another player missing this game was left tackle Donald Penn. That meant right tackle Menelik Watson would have to go up against defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. As expected, Watson had a horrible game.
This game got off to a bad start as the play calling was horrible. I am aware that quarterback Connor Cook is a rookie and was inactive until the final game of the year. But it was time to take off the training wheels. This is the playoffs! His strength is the deep ball and he’s got a strong arm. But throughout the first quarter, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was calling for screen passes on third and long. One of those screens was picked off by Clowney and that set the Texans up at the Oakland four-yard line. Running back Lamar Miller capped off the drive with a run up the left side for a touchdown.
One bright spot for the Raiders was running back/return man Jalen Richard. His 37-yard punt return set the Raiders up in Houston territory. Some good running by Latavius Murray got the Raiders moving in the right direction. As a matter of fact, Murray scored on a two-yard run. That gave Raider fans a little hope. But that hope didn’t last very long. A lot of Cook’s passes were high and uncatchable. But there were some that were right on the money and dropped by wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
After the touchdown by Murray, the Raider offense was non-existent. They gained just 24 yards on their next four possessions and didn’t score again until the game was way out of hand. I realize the Texans have a solid defense. But the Raiders were so inept that they made the Texans look like the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Texans won this game easily by a score of 27-14. They will be heading up to Foxborough next week to take on the New England Patriots. I think they might find it a little tougher to get a win on the road against Tom Brady.
For the Raiders, Connor Cook completed 18 of 45 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Off the top of my head, I can count at least five passes that were dropped. Andre Holmes led the team in receptions and receiving yards with 50 and a touchdown. He should have started this game. He made some tough catches and was clearly a mismatch for Houston’s defensive backs. Latavius Murray was the leading rusher with 39 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the Raiders rushed for just 64 yards on 21 carries. Defensively, they didn’t do much. They had no sacks and forced Osweiler out of the pocket maybe three times. He finished the game with a clean uniform. Khalil Mack led the team in solo tackles with eight and he had two tackles for a loss.
For the Texans, Brock Osweiler completed 14 of 25 for 168 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and ran for another. DeAndre Hopkins was the leading receiver with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Texans didn’t have much room to run as they only gained 123 yards on 44 carries. That’s an average of 2.8 yards per carry. Lamar Miller led the team in rushing with 73 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. Defensively, cornerback Johnathan Joseph led the team in solo tackles with ten.
That’s that. Another season is complete for the Raiders and they left the party early. Would things be different with Carr at quarterback instead of Cook? You better believe it. But I can sit here and wonder about that all day and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. What’s done is done and it is time for the front office to re-sign some free agents and get ready for the draft. If it were up to me, I’d take a lot of defensive players in the draft. Mack and Irvin are really the only defenders who make plays consistently. Other areas of need are offensive tackle and wide receiver. Preferably a receiver with good hands who doesn’t let the ball bounce off his chest. But the draft and free agency are far away. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy